Daily Devotionals

 
 

Week 1, Friday, Mark 1:14-20

Bible Passage

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

 

There is a note of urgency at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry – “The time has come…” He wastes no time in calling his first disciples. Strange choice, though. They were…fishermen? Sure, they were working men and some even doing well – how else can you explain having “hired men”? But how knowledgeable would simple fishermen be about God, His Kingdom, and calling others to be disciples as well? Yet Jesus calls them to follow Him. And the amazing thing is that they did! They just left everything to follow this man they knew little about, for a purpose that was rather puzzling – “to fish for people.” That’s obedience! And what followed changed their own destiny and that of the world.

 

Prayer: Lord, I wonder if I’ve got things backward. The world has taught me to first know, and then do. So I wait to grow in my knowledge of you in order to do what I think you want me to do. But you really want me to be obedient first, even if I don’t understand everything. And then you will show me more of yourself; I then grow in my knowledge of you because my relationship with you grows AS I FOLLOW you. I want to be your disciple Jesus. Let my song be, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back!” Amen.

Song


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Week 1, Thursday, Mark 1:12-13

Bible Passage

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

 

After that exhilarating experience of being anointed by the Holy Spirit, and his Identity and Purpose being validated by the very voice of God, Jesus is “sent” by this same Spirit…

If I had to play the game, “Now Complete the Story”, I would have said, “To do something big and fantastic for God.” Instead the Spirit “at once” sent Jesus out into the wilderness! There are no people in the wilderness to do things “fantastic for God.” And in the 40 long and lonely days there was only Satan doing what only he does best – tempt. There were wild animals, of course, and Matthew tells us (4:11) that the angels attended to him only in the end. Jesus shows us through his own life that God desires humility, surrender and obedience more than anything else. That’s true devotion, not running around “doing things for God.” That comes later, much later. And even then it really is “God doing things through us.” And in that obedience even Jesus learned that the only way to overcome temptation is – true devotion to God!

 

Prayer: Gracious God, forgive me for believing that all you want of me is to be your servant, doing things for you. You really want me to give more and more of myself to you, until there is nothing left in me but You. I try and battle temptation, but it is so often on my own – and I lose. Remind me, dear Lord, that emptying myself to you doesn’t make me weaker, but actually stronger. It is because only then You fill me up. Fill me up, Lord Jesus, I give myself to you. Amen.

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Week 1, Wednesday, Mark 1:9-11

Bible Passage

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

Mark introduces Jesus quite suddenly simply as “from Nazarene.” We know from other sources that he was about 30, having lived an “ordinary” life as a carpenter (or mason, some feel). But now here he is, at Jordan waiting for his relative John the Baptist to baptize him. Baptism was a symbol, a mark, of one’s turning away from an old, anti-God way of life to identify as one of God’s redeemed* family. But Jesus didn’t need that; he hadn’t lived an antigod life. But yet he wanted to be identified with a creation that God was redeeming – ultimately being the price of redemption* himself. It is only then that the Father confirms Jesus’ own identity and purpose, through the giving of His Holy Spirit, and words of encouragement. Even Jesus needed the Spirit, and to hear how much he was valued!

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know where you came from, and who you are – the Son of God. Yet I often forget that when you walked this earth, you were like any one of us – fully human. You too needed to be obedient, needed to want what your Father wanted, needed the Holy Spirit, needed to know how much you are loved, that the Father had a purpose for you. O God, may your living Word reassure all of that to me as well – how much you love me, that you have a unique purpose for me. Because I really want what you want, Father; I need your Presence in my life even as I follow you…Amen.

 

* “redeem” (redemption, etc.) is when a relative buys you out of debt/slavery, when you yourself can do nothing about that debt/slavery. And God sees Himself as that relative!

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Week 1, Tuesday: Mark 1:2-8

Bible Passage

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

 

At least 500 years after it was prophesied (in Isaiah 40:3) John the Baptist burst on the Judean landscape wearing clothes marked by their extreme simplicity (and even discomfort), eating a diet which was so strange and meager, even survival training offered more! But the point was that he came – as was prophesied – literally as a “sign-post.” He lived his life according to the purpose God had for him (500+ years in the making), with a message that was simple: “Who I am, what I do, what I say all point away from me to Someone else. I am no comparison to Him, and nothing I do even comes close to what He does/will do.” I wonder, in this self-promoting culture, do our lifestyles, our deeds, our words, point to Jesus?

 

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for not seeing myself as a sign-post that needs to point to you. Sometimes I don’t realize that sign-posts need to be simple, to simply be directional “→”. May my life (in the choices for myself, my clothes, my food, my plans, my deeds), and my words, all point a confused world to you, Jesus. Thank you for reminding me that even though the Message (=Good News=Jesus) is supremely important, the messenger (that’s me!) is important as well. Amen.
 
 
 

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Mark Daily Devotionals– Week 1, Monday

MARK DEVOTIONS

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

These are devotionals that I have written based on the shortest Gospel – Mark – in order to understand/discover/be reminded (whatever fits you), who Jesus is, what God is doing in the world, and my (and hopefully your) response in the form of a conversation prayer. I hope you will enjoy this devotional journey that we have together, wherever you are in cyberspace. Remember, this is not a study – it is a devotion. I’ve also chosen a song for you to listen at the end of each devotion. Be blessed!

 

WEEK ONE

Day 1, Monday

Mark 1:1 [NIV]

“The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

            I’m sure you would have noticed that this reminds you of another “beginning” – that of the creation of the world in Genesis 1:1. John, who would later write his Gospel, would also begin with a “beginning” – though would refer to Jesus Himself, as the Word who was in the “beginning”. But it seems as if Mark wanted to get straight to the point. He didn’t write of Jesus’ birth – not that it was not important – but for Mark (or Peter, who was probably relating all of this to Mark), the most important thing was the Gospel – Good News. The good news was a person ­– Jesus (=Savior) Christ (=Messiah, God’s anointed One). But that’s not all, this person really was the Son of God, God the Creator coming as… a creature! Mark’s “good news” is that God is not a “far away, powerful, inaccessible One” – but that for some wonderful reason God coming in Jesus is good news – for now, for always, for me, for the world. Mark wanted to share it (hence the Gospel’s writing), what about me and you?

 

Prayer: Maybe I’ve heard the word too often, Lord, but the word “gospel” no longer excites me. Has it stopped being “good news” for me, for the world? Is the bad news of the world (and often in my own life) so overwhelming that you, Jesus, are no longer “good news”? Forgive me for my “staleness”; but thank you for never stopping to be my “good news” even if I don’t always recognize it. Remind me, Lord, that when I keep focusing on you (as THE good news), your face becomes gradually clearer, and so does your love and plan, for me, and for my world. Amen.

Click Here for Song 


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New Year’s Devotion

Read: Hebrews 12:1-2

Bible Passage

 

Happy New Year 2020 to each one of you readers, and your families! There are three ways we can participate in God’s continuing work of Grace (=His undeserved Love) in our lives this year.

First, get rid of everything (good or bad) that distracts you from focusing on Jesus, and resolve to grow in your intimacy with Him (Hebrews 12:1-2). After all, He’s the only One who loves us despite our being broken and flawed inside, and gave His life to begin a relationship with Him – a relationship that will grow us to be just like Him. Second, refuse to be satisfied with yesterday’s (2019’s) faith and experiences of God (Philippians 3:12-14). Instead do everything in your power to grow in your knowledge of Him, to experience the power of His Grace working through you in building His Kingdom in new ways. And finally, let’s be done with “empty religion”. That’s the religion that is repetitive, devoid of expectation and meaning, and is unproductive. Instead let 2020 be a year where we remind ourselves that we are in a real and exciting “race” – a life lived for (and with) Christ, full of excitement and divine activity, that we will seriously “train” for (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). DAILY! By daily Bible reading (and sometimes study), daily meditation, daily prayer, daily worship, daily “growing in faith to serve Christ”. That is sure to produce results!

 

Wesley’s Covenant Prayer:

I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you, Praised for you or criticized for you. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service. And now, O wonderful and holy God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, you are mine, and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it also be made in heaven.  Amen.

 

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A Christmas Devotional

Watch this space for a New Year’s Eve devotion, and later for a daily devotion based on Mark’s Gospel from January 6, 2020.

 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Matthew 1:18-25

Bible Passage

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

“…you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” This should have been the most exciting and happiest news that Joseph was ever given. But was he excited? Was he happy? I’m not sure, or else why did the angel also say, “do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife…”? We sometimes forget that what has become good news for us may have been very scary news for Joseph. Christmas often causes the same response for some. Yes, Jesus has come into the world, but why have circumstances become worse for me? Jesus came to save us from sin, but who will save us from the sinner that oppresses us? Christmas is all about God coming to heal our broken relationship with Him, but why is there no healing in the broken relationships within our families? Not all questions have immediate answers. And maybe we can learn from Joseph who took God one promise at a time. For the moment Christmas means “Immanuel” – God with us. And so he took God at his word and named the baby “Jesus”. God would save. Sometimes faith means that we need to wait, even with all our questions. And hold on to “God with us”.

 

Prayer: I miss those that are no longer with me, Lord. Some have gone to be with you, some have just gone… But you came Lord Jesus so that I will never be lonely again. Ever. I have my questions, yes. And some of them are louder in a “happy” time like Christmas. But I am encouraged by Joseph, that even though he may not have had all his questions answered, he believed, and obeyed. And experienced “Immanuel” – God with us – in the flesh! I want to also, my Lord. May this Christmas mean more than the glitter, the gifts, the food. Please make yourself known to me as Immanuel. Amen.

Song: Song


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Coming Soon in January 2020!

Beginning on January 6, 2020, Pastor Sunil will be sharing a daily devotional from the Gospel of Mark. We hope you will join us on this meaningful journey!

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