Daily Devotionals

 
 

Week 15, Monday, Mark 16:1-8

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 16:1-8

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

 

Hallelujah! The day, the event that the whole world, indeed all history was looking forward to was here. Easter! Resurrection Day!! For all those that live in fear of death, and/or grieve because of what death does to relationships – come the words of the angels: “Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He’s been raised up” (v.6, Message). Yes, Jesus died, and that was a human tragedy beyond comparison. Yet he gave his life willingly, for our sins and brokenness. But death can no longer hold him; death is a defeated enemy. Jesus was raised from the dead – and that fills those that believe on him with hope. Resurrection takes away fear and softens grief, and replaces it with something that this world can never take away from the believer – Hope of a Heaven Life that begins even now…and continues beyond the grave. Jesus is our Example, our Life-giver, the One that leads the way.

 

Prayer: Hallelujah! Lord Jesus, you are alive. Now death has no hold over you because you have conquered death. When I am overcome by circumstances, or frightened or grieved by death, or feel cornered or discouraged by opposition, please remind me that the darkness brought about by all of those is not the end. Yes, Good Friday was a Day of darkness. But Easter’s come! You are the Victor, and when I put my trust in you, I am on the winning side! So I praise you my Savior and my God. Fill me with your Resurrection power that I may live every day with hope, courage, and to your glory. Amen.

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Week 14, Saturday, Mark 15:42-47

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 15:42-47

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

 

Jesus did have rich, religious and influential friends (some were secret followers as well). Two of them are mentioned at his burial – Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (John 19:38-40). Where were they at the Trial? Were they afraid to speak up on behalf of Jesus? Or were they “shouted down” if they did speak up? The reality of both exists even today. However, what they did after Jesus’ death showed who they decided to finally identify with. Because asking Pilate for Jesus’ body, then preparing it, followed by actually burying him in the family burial plot was an open statement that they believed and belonged to this “Kingdom” that Jesus preached. Even though they hadn’t yet experienced Easter! Which tells me that it’s never too late (as long as we have breath in us) to come out as a follower of Christ, even if circumstances or our previous actions tempt us to think the opposite. That’s grace at work in us!

 

Prayer: Thank you gracious God for the hope you give me, that it’s never too late to live and show myself as your follower. When I look back at my life I know that there were times that I was either too afraid or ignorant or indifferent – and kept silent, when I should have/could have made the difference for you, Lord Jesus. And yet you don’t hold that against me, because you know my weaknesses, and frailty. But I don’t want to remain a “secret” and ineffective disciple any more. Fill me with your Spirit’s power and courage that I might be a witness for you, to your transforming grace; for your glory alone. Amen.

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Week 14, Friday, Mark 15:37-41

 Mark Devotionals

Go to Mark 15:37-41

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

 

At the end of six agonizing hours Jesus dies. But he didn’t go as one defeated. He dies “with a loud cry”. Most probably it was “It is finished” that John 19:30 records him saying just before he died. He had finished doing his Father’s Will as a human, as the Incarnate Son of God. He had finished making a “new” way to God the Father, so that now all could freely come to Him – Jews and non-Jews, sophisticated and ordinary, law-abiders and law-breakers, the (seemingly) religious and irreligious (and marginalized). This was visibly seen in the tearing of Temple curtain, and the Roman centurion acknowledging Jesus’ specialness. It was a cry of completion, victory, obedience. Would you and I be able to say that when our lives ended? Only one who has learned how to die, knows how to live.

 

Prayer: I look at my life and wonder if I have fulfilled the purpose you brought me into the world, Lord. And have I fulfilled the purpose for which you died for me? Your Word says that I have been “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20), and yet I continue to live mostly for myself. Forgive me, loving Lord Jesus, for not living totally through and for you. I want to live a “purpose driven life”; I want your purpose to drive me! And with my last breath may I too be able to say “I have done what You wanted of me”. I want to hear you saying to me, “Well done my good and faithful servant…” Come fill me afresh, Sovereign Lord. Amen.

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Week 14, Thursday, Mark 15:33-37

 Mark Devotionals

 

Go to Mark 15:33-37

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

 

A very probable timeline of Jesus’ crucifixion is: at 9 am he is nailed to the cross (v.25), at Noon the sky darkens (v.33), at 3 pm he cries out to his Father and dies (v.34-37). Six hours before Jesus, the 100% human, cries out to God in agony. Was the agony physical? Was it the result of the combined hatred of those that who unwittingly became instruments of Satan? Was it the utter loneliness caused by the betrayal, denial and desertion of those closest to him? Maybe. But that wasn’t all. For Jesus what hurt the most was the apparent turning away of his Father with whom he had an intimate relationship. For those moments on the cross when he literally “became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)” [an expression to mean that Jesus became saturated with/took on the entire sin of humankind, that it enveloped him]. And even a loving Father had to turn away because he was also a just and righteous God who hated sin and had to judge sin – and did so by letting his Son suffer on our behalf. And, to repeat what I wrote yesterday – it was all for you and me. My friend, know that Jesus knows your deepest agony; he was there. And he will be there to bring you out. After all, he’s paid for it!

 

Prayer: Lord, I didn’t think. I didn’t realize that even my darkest moments have been experienced by you, Jesus, in one form or the other. You understand my pain, my loneliness, my darkness, because you too went through all of them – and more! Forgive me for thinking that you didn’t care, that you didn’t understand. You love me so much that you are there when I need you the most, so that I will never have to feel as you did on the cross – alone in my pain. I will never have to feel that God has left me because you paid the price that I will never have to. All I need to do is ask, all I need to desire is you with all my heart. So come to me, loving and living Lord. Hold me close to yourself. Never let me go. Amen.

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Week 14, Wednesday, Mark 15:21-32

 Mark Devotionals

 

Go to Mark 15:21-32

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

 

Mark is so simple in his telling, “And they crucified him”. No present-day media hype, no detailed descriptions to evoke emotions, just a line in his Gospel. But maybe people didn’t need details. It was an everyday reality; the Roman highways were lined with crosses reminding their subjects what awaited their radical opponents. People knew the long hours of excruciating pain that preceded death on a cross. So while Mark does want to record the event, and his readers would have understood his words, do we understand? Do we understand that Jesus took all this agony on himself because he loved humankind – you and me? Do we understand that even till the end the world around him jeered, mocked, and ridiculed him, and he refused to retaliate because they really “did not know what they were doing”? Do we understand that that is still happening, and his response is still the same? Do we understand that in reality “No one took his life from him, but he intentionally laid it down” (cf. John10: 18) … for us? Have we allowed this understanding to break our hearts so that he would make them anew (cf. Ezekiel 36:26)?

 

Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart. Is it hard? Is it stubborn? Is it bitter? Is it marred by sin? Break my heart, O Lord, if that is the only way you can get me to respond to you. Give me a new heart, a heart of flesh; a heart that feels, a heart that is sensitive to your love, your words, your touch, your agony. Because I know that there must be agony in your heart as you see a world so broken and so in need of you. So make me new from within, daily, that I may respond to the world as you did – with love. Amen.

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Week 14, Tuesday, Mark 15:16-20

Mark Devotionals

 

Go to Mark 15:16-20

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

 

The secular world finally had its hands on Jesus. Or so they thought. The Roman soldiers, a representation of the military, and political powers that line up against God mocked Jesus, insulted him, showed their vengeful anger at him. They acted violently to cause physical pain to him – and yet again, there is no retaliation on his part. What did Jesus do to any of those soldiers? How had he angered them so? Indeed, where does all our anger stem from? Why are we vicious to those who have done nothing against us personally? Is it because we think that their poverty, or seemingly disastrous choices, or obvious need has in some way (directly or indirectly) affected our “well-being” or comfort? If we look really closely, and we are honest with ourselves, we may see our own faces among those soldiers…

 

Prayer: I am so quick to judge, O Lord. I condemn those that are obviously in violent conflict with you and your Kingdom, forgetting that there are times when I too am among those in conflict, even if it is less violent. I want to see you through eyes that can really see. Maybe then I will see you in the poor, wretched, neglected, misunderstood, abused, discriminated against. Maybe then I will see my anger against them and judging them for the circumstances they are in is really anger against you. Forgive me, Lord. Change my heart, O Lord; soften it. Give me a heart of flesh that feels your pain that leads us to yearn for (your way of) deliverance from evil. Amen.

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Week 14, Monday, Mark 15:1-15

 Mark Devotionals

Go to Mark 15:1-15

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

 

When Pilate examined Jesus who was brought to him on a political charge that warranted death, he saw through the Jewish authorities’ ploy and tried to free him, first by using a Passover custom (that he had initiated) of releasing a prisoner; but the crowd chose a criminal, Barabbas instead. He then tried to appeal to the people’s better judgment, which apparently wasn’t there. And all along, Mark records, Jesus kept silent. So, “to satisfy the crowd”, Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified. Pilate had no God in his life and therefore no faith, neither did he have any deep convictions which is why he could let an innocent man die. Jesus had both – conviction and faith. His conviction was that he was sent to do his Father’s Will. And he completely depended on his Father to give him the strength to do so. What are your convictions? And who do you depend on to give you the means to fulfill them?

 

Prayer: Father, I so often trust in my own abilities. I know it is you who has given them to me in the first place, but I fail to understand how to use them when I believe that it’s all up to me. Even you, Lord Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing”. Help me to understand that when I give in to your Will, that I cannot fulfill it purely on my own – I need you. Forgive me for striving on my own –  trying to do things in my own strength. Only you can give me the strength and courage to accomplish what you, God, want to accomplish in me, and through me. I submit to you, my Lord. Amen.

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Week 13, Saturday, Mark 14:66-72

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 14:66-72

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

 

Peter denied Jesus three times – just as Jesus predicted. But don’t let the familiarity of the story rob you of its blessing. Read again the words “Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken … And he broke down and wept” (v.72). Notice that his first response was not self-recrimination; instead he remembered what Jesus said. It is that which led to his brokenness. Paul makes a very insightful observation, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is brought about by the Spirit of God when the child of God humbles himself/herself to his working, and to God’s Word. Instead of destroying, it builds anew; instead of brokenness, there is beauty through the brokenness. Do you allow God to “break” you?

 

Prayer: Loving Lord, I am so proud. Even when I have fallen flat on my face, and you knew I would, I still make excuses; I still become defensive. Forgive me for losing the opportunity for you to do a miracle in my life by refusing to let your Spirit take my brokenness and transform it into something beautiful…for you! Break me, Lord. Maybe then I will realize that I am, after all, a clay jar that needs to be re-worked, a jar that needs the contents – you, Lord – to flow out. I know that you will do only what is best for me, only what will bring you glory. So take my mistakes and denials and transform me through them. Amen.

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Week 13, Friday, Mark 14:53-65

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 14:53-65

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

 

It is possible to say the right thing at the wrong time. (On the other hand there is no right time to say the wrong thing!). In other words, there are times it is wise to keep silent, and there are other times when you need to speak. Jesus had shown himself the master of both – speech and silence, and when to use either. But now, in front of the Jewish Council that had met specifically to condemn him to die, it seems that he mixed up when to be silent, and when to speak. Or did he? From a purely personal (self-serving) perspective it would seem so. After all, isn’t it normal for us to use speech and silence to either promote ourselves/our well-being or get us out of trouble? For Jesus (and consequently his followers) that was not so. What he said and why he kept silent were governed by one thing. He never thought of himself first; he would do only what pleased God, which included being unafraid of revealing his identity, an identity that reflected the character of his Father (of justice, mercy, grace). It led to them sentencing him to death… So what governs your speech and silence?

 

Prayer: Father, I confess that so often I speak or am silent to serve my own purpose, to fulfill my own agenda. Yet you sent your Son to die for me, to make me your child – your daughter, your son. May I show myself to an unjust and doubting world as a child of the King of kings by how I live for you and for others. Teach me to speak, and how to be silent, but only if it reveals You. Give me an understanding of your will Lord, and the courage, to stand up for what brings You glory, even if it means that I may suffer for it. Amen.

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Week 13, Thursday, Mark 14:43-52

Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 14:43-52

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

 

The world by nature is in conflict with Jesus and anybody and anything that stands with him. Sometimes that world in conflict will be violent, using not just physical weapons but harsh words, belittling attitudes and devious means as well. But even more saddening is when religious people unwittingly join the rest of the world and think they are actually working for God! And that’s what was happening at the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas Iscariot and the religious anti-Jesus group came armed, and under the cloak of darkness and betrayal to capture Jesus. Jesus knew who it was and why they were coming – and didn’t stop them! He didn’t even put up a struggle; because that was what God intended in order for His Will to be accomplished. Jesus knew something that his opponents did not. God is in control; He was about to do a great work of Grace; God would win in the end. Jesus just submitted to God’s way of working.

 

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, when I let those who are so set on their own agendas to upset me. Especially if that “agenda” includes trying to undermine or cause harm to your children. Remind me at such times that you indeed are God, and that you are in control. Remind me of those words in the hymn “This is my Father’s World” – “O let me never forget, that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” Teach me to be strong through being gentle, submissive through being obedient. May the world see you through whatever happens to me. Amen.

 

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