Daily Devotionals

 
 
 

Check back for a new series coming in the fall!

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.

Listen to Song


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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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Week 3, Wednesday, Mark 3:7-12

Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go To Mark 3:7-12

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

It’s curious, but while Jesus was on Earth he never really wanted people talking about him and his healings. And he shut up those unclean evil spirits who knew without a doubt his identity as God’s Son. Does that mean that we shouldn’t tell others about him and what he’s done? There are three things to remember. Jesus does want us to talk about him with others, but first he wants us to have an intimate relationship with him. Sharing about anyone based on a superficial relationship is dangerous; besides, why will we want others to know him unless we ourselves have a growing experience of the wonderful Person that he is? Second, there is a matter of “timing” – you need to know when God wants you to do it. It’s like the farmer who sows the seed only after he has ploughed and cultivated the ground. And thirdly, if that person’s life reflects the world and its evils, Christ is not interested in getting “good press” from “unreliable sources.”

 

Prayer: Father, I am so often afraid to talk about you. But even if I did want to talk about you, what would I say? Lord, I realize that maybe I need to grow in my intimacy with you. Like Paul I want my prayer to be, “I want to know you, Christ” – the depth of your love, the wonder of you as Creator, the beauty of your holiness… I want to be so excited about you that every conversation I have with others will be an opportunity for you to manifest yourself. Help me understand that when I radiate your growing Presence in me, you will prepare the ground for people to want to know the Person that makes all the difference in my life. Amen.

Listen to Song

 

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Week 3, Tuesday, Mark 3:1-6

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 
 

Go To Mark 3:1-6

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

 

Jesus looks “at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts…” (v.5).

Jesus’ critics were waiting to find fault with him for doing the work of healing on the Sabbath. It’s astonishing how we can completely miss the obvious because of our preoccupation with our own agendas and distorted vision. What could be more obvious than doing God’s good work on God’s holy Day? Jesus does two things; first he shows anguish at his critics’ attitude – he knows that they are missing the point of religion, which was to experience a loving God even through the good He wants to do through us. Secondly he heals the man, criticism notwithstanding, showing he would rather face opposition and act in mercy than let someone continue alone in their suffering.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I wonder if my attitudes seem distorted to you, and thus cause you anguish. Help me understand that your love and my prejudice cannot co-exist; there can be only one or the other. Forgive me for the distress I cause you. Heal me of my blindness when I cannot see the suffering of a sister, brother, or neighbor. And thank you for never giving up on me, because I know you keep giving me opportunities to touch people outside my “comfort zone” with your love which has the power to change people, circumstances. And yes, myself too. Amen.

Listen to Song


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Week 3, Monday, Mark 2:23-28

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go To Mark 2:23-28

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

 

Sabbath keeping was/is an integral part of the Jewish faith. It was a day that was to be set apart for God, mandated by Old Testament Law, and the orthodox Jew insisted on keeping it. Unfortunately we in the Christian world have lost the meaning of the Sabbath, much like the religious orthodox had during Jesus’ time. Jesus was reminding them (and us) that it’s not about things that you should do or should not do on this special day. That was not why God ordained Sabbath for His people. God “gifted” us with the Sabbath (or “set apart”/ “special”/ “Holy” day) so that we could use opportunities that Day provides to draw closer to him, for him to restore us, refresh us. We should want to use the Day to fulfill the desire to grow in our experience of a loving God in every way possible – worship, study, prayer, family-building, neighbor-loving… Do we use our Sundays that way?

 

Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for a Day when I can focus exclusively on you. I know you take pleasure when I worship you with others in your house, and forgive me when I neglect to do so. But you also want me to take the Day to experience you in my family, with those you have put in my life. You want me to find ways to focus on you so much that your love spills out in everything that I do that Day. Maybe then I will learn to experience you more and more the rest of the week as well. Teach me to desire you more than anything else. Amen.

Song: Listen to Song

 

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Week 2, Saturday, Mark 2:18-22

MARK DEVOTIONS

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

GO TO Mark 2:18-22

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

 

Jesus is not doing away with fasting. In fact, he says that there will come a time when fasting will be needed. However important is the oft neglected Spiritual Discipline of fasting, Jesus is really talking about something else. With Jesus coming into the world people no longer need depend on ritualistic actions in trying to come closer to God. With Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God before us now, the question is, “Do I want to relate to him personally, directly, as MY Savior and Lord? Or do I still want to rely in doing the same thing over and over again with little meaning, and more out of habit? Things like ‘giving my dues’, or giving my attendance at worship at regular intervals, or doing a sacrificial deed now and then.” Jesus has provided a new and direct way (Hebrews 10:20) to know God, which makes doing all the above meaningful only after we’ve given ourselves completely to Him, and not the other way around.

 

Prayer: Forgive me Lord, when I think that whatever I do will win favor with you, however “spiritual” they may look. I realize that all you really want is for me to accept your grace (undeserved love) in faith and grow in an ever deepening relationship with you. Then everything I do will come out of that love relationship. Isn’t that what pleases you most, Jesus? So here I am: “break me, melt me, mold me, fill me…and use me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.” Amen.

LISTEN TO SONG

 

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Week 2, Friday, Mark 2:13-17

GO TO Mark 2:13-17

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

Jesus calls yet another unlikely candidate to follow him as a disciple! While walking along he calls Levi (also called Matthew, and a Jew) who is doing his work as a tax collector. Jewish tax collectors were hated by their fellow (self-respecting) Jews because they were thought of as betrayers, doing a despised job for the enemy – the Romans. Matthew obeys, leaves his job, and begins his new life as a Jesus-follower by throwing a party with other (hated) tax collectors and Jewish law breakers as invitees, and Jesus as the chief guest. When the respected religious folks found fault with Jesus’ associations, Jesus made clear his intention – his coming to earth as a human was to identify with all those lonely, excluded, despised, overlooked, broken, “needy” folk. Who do you think you are? Someone who is satisfied with their religion? Or someone who is “needy”?

Prayer: Lord, do you really care for how lonely I am, how broken and needy I am inside of me? I put on a face that shows “I’m okay”, but so often I’m far from okay. But your Word reassures me that you not only want to associate with me, you even call me to be your follower. I don’t feel worthy, Lord. But since it is you calling, I will follow. Just keep reminding me that it is not because of anything to do with me that you want me follow, it is only because you love me! Amen.

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