Daily Devotionals

 
 

Week 11, Friday, Mark 12:18-27

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 12:18-27

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

 

The Sadducees, a Jewish religious sect that did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, came to Jesus with their trick question. What they described was known as Levirate marriage, where a son-less dead man’s family name would be carried on by his widow marrying his younger brother and having a son by him. The Sadducees theoretical question was meant to put Jesus in knots, but as usual Jesus didn’t just “floor” them, he went to the heart of their own problem of misunderstanding and disbelief. Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” (v.24) But I think that’s true about many of our own questions, doubts, misgivings, impatience with God. Do we really know the Scriptures? Do we really know the power of God? If Scripture is all about God saying, “This is who I am – know about me; know me;” if through Scripture and circumstances God has been trying again and again to show us that He works His power on our behalf, for His children’s good… could it be that it is we who are deaf…and blind?

 

Prayer: Lord, have I been deaf to your voice, blind to your mighty acts of love? Your Word does say “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) Why then do I question your love so often? Forgive me Jesus, if I have neglected your Word, and that neglect has let to ignorance. And that ignorance has led to deafness. It is even possible that that neglect has blinded me to your acts of love because I have been so taken up by the world. Forgive me, Lord. I know deep within me that every promise in your Word is true. Please teach me so that I can see past my own walls to your face of love. Amen.

 
 

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Week 11, Thursday, Mark 12:13-17

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

Go to Mark 12:13-17

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

 

I wish I could be so wise in giving people such replies when they try to trap me. But Jesus wasn’t trying to be clever when he answered, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Sure, that strange but convenient alliance of the super-religious and the pro-establishment was out to trap Jesus with their trick question of who to pay taxes to. The super-religious would emphasize giving only to the Temple (and thereby to the Jewish nation), and denying Rome; the pro-establishment would say just the opposite in order to keep the status quo (and peace with Rome). But for Jesus it wasn’t a case of just fulfilling your duties or the Law. It never is for God (more later in verses 30 & 31). The deeper question is: How do you see yourself and your possessions in relation to the world, and in relation to God? Yes, to be part of the world we need to fulfill our responsibility to society. But we can best do that by first fulfilling our responsibility to God. And what do you think that is? (Does yesterday’s devotion give a hint?)

 

Prayer: Father, I remember reading in Proverbs 9:10 that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” You really don’t want me to show the world that I belong to you by giving people clever answers to their (cunning) questions, do you, Lord. Help me to be a witness to them by my genuine (authentic) devotion to you in all that I am (my identity), and through all that I have (my possessions). I know that only by doing this will I reveal my love, respect, and awe of you, and strangely I will also want to fulfill my responsibility to the society I live in – for your sake! Teach me, change me, and work through me, my Savior, Lord, and Holy One. Amen.

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Week 11, Wednesday, Mark 12:1-12

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

Go to Mark 12:1-12

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

 

Jesus’ parable is pretty straight-forward. The man clearly owned the vineyard. He also did most of the work – put a wall around it to presumably protect it against animals, dug the wine-press pit, built the watchtower. All that was needed were farmers to actually grow the crop – or grapes. And so the man leased out the land, with the only payment being some of the fruit (I’m sure it was a pre-arranged, mutually agreed upon share). Yet you see how strangely the tenant farmers behave with the man’s servants; they even go to the point of killing the owner’s son to take ownership of the land. Why? It’s easy to exclude oneself and explain away that Jesus was speaking only about the Jewish people. But as I look at the larger picture I see myself as one of the tenants as well. As part of a world that is not comfortable with this radical Jesus and his Kingdom methods, have I not also kept from Him what truly belongs to Him? Have I not also turned a deaf ear to His Voice (through His Word and servants) because it interfered with my own plans? Do I not reject His sacrifice every time I reject His mercy and forgiveness from working in me and through me?

 

Prayer: My loving Lord Jesus; how many times have I grieved you when I became so much more engrossed in the gifts rather than the Giver. You love me so much and therefore you give me every good gift. Oh yes, Lord, I know and acknowledge they come from you. I may even thank you for them. But I find it so hard to give some of them back to you. I become obsessed with my gifts – my family, my job, my possessions, my abilities – and I want to hold on to them. Help me understand that by denying you a share of those gifts (which you gave me in the first place), I am actually denying you parts in my life, and rejecting you as Lord. Forgive me, Jesus; I want to love you as Abraham did, who was willing to give back to you the Isaac You gave him. Amen.

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Week 11, Tuesday, Mark 11:27-33

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 11:27-33

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

 

Jesus is back in the Temple courts. The Jewish hierarchy comes challenging him to prove the authority with which he cleared the Temple courts (and maybe the royal, Messianic way he entered Jerusalem). Jesus turns the question on to them by asking them about how they viewed (the now dead) John the Baptist’s authority – was John’s authority human-initiated or divine? In refusing to give an honest answer, the Jewish leaders did what a lot of us do – and end up being the losers for it. They allowed their prejudice to blind their senses to the very blessing they had yearned for so long – the Presence of the Messiah! It’s what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of age has blinded the mind of the unbeliever…” And all because Jesus did not fit their image of Messiahship; they missed the blessing. What about you?

 

Prayer: Forgive me Lord when I let my prejudices and personal preferences blind me to the times you pass me by or even stand in front of me – and I don’t see you! I do want to see you clearly Lord, so I shed all that hinders me from doing so. Open my eyes that I may see… You. In the beauty of your holiness. Amen.

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Week 11, Monday, Mark 11:12-14, 20-25

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 11:12-14

Go to Mark 11:20-25

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

 

The fig tree was in full leaf, which promised at least some fruit on it – even if they were to be unripe, under-developed figs. But a hungry Jesus found absolutely no trace of figs on the tree. And so he “judges” the tree, that it would never have another opportunity to bear fruit and meet a person’s hunger again. Is this a Jesus that we never knew? Actually this is the same Lord of love, yet reminding the disciple/believer of a dire responsibility that is a part of love. Jesus didn’t just come to save us from sin and hell, so that we will go to heaven. He wants to come into our lives, transform us from being dry, thorny bushes to being fruit-full trees that feed the hungry. Two of these fruits are faith (that believes that God can feed the driest soul) and forgiveness (that cancels others’ wrongs against oneself just as God cancelled our wrongs against Him) that are not meant for the tree (disciple) itself, but are meant to be given away to those that need it the most. Every opportunity for not allowing God’s fruit to show in us is an opportunity missed. And one day there will be no more opportunities.

 

Prayer: Gracious and loving God, this is a hard saying. It even frightens me a bit. But that’s not what you intend, do you, Lord? You want me to be reassured that you will always love me, but it’s a love that I need to be consciously and intentionally receiving into my life by allowing it to work in me – because You are that Love. Your Word reminds me repeatedly that when I allow you to work in me, you will bear fruit in and through me. It’s as natural as a fig tree that at the appropriate time brings forth figs. Lord, forgive me when I don’t allow you full control of my life. Maybe those are the times fruit does not show. So my prayer is: More of you, less of me. Amen.

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Week 10, Saturday, Mark 11:15-19

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 11:15-19

[Please read and meditate on 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 lot of emphasis has been put on Jesus’ clearing the temple because of what he saw happening there. There were booths set up to change the commonly used Roman money into the Jewish/Temple money required for offering. There were also sales of sacrificial animals/birds for those who came without them. But I believe Jesus’ focus was on what was not happening in the Temple – prayer! Hence his quoting from Isaiah, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations…” I wonder how passionate we are for our church(es) to be primarily known as a “house of prayer” – and consequently we be known as “people of prayer”. What Jesus did by disrupting the “business proceedings” in a house of worship was more than a “clean-up” job; (after all they would have come back the next day!). Jesus was prophetically showing what would happen to a worship place that did not manifest, or live out its primary reason for existing – worship, and prayer! Are we mindful of this?

 

Prayer: Father, you have often reminded me of the promise you gave Solomon and the Israelites when they dedicated the Temple: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). I know it’s not the same for us; yet the challenge is similar for us as well: we who have beautifully created structures we call churches. We too are called to use our “holy” structures for prayer – so that grace would flood down on us and from us to a world of need outside. Give us a passion to be a people of prayer so that your house will be known primarily as a “house of prayer for all nations”. Amen.

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Week 10, Friday, Mark 11:1-11

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 11:1-11

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

 

Jesus went to unusual detail about the way he would ride into Jerusalem in that final week of his human life by sending 2 disciples to procure a specific mode of transportation. Thus when he rode into Jerusalem he was intentionally fulfilling the Messianic symbolism of Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Jesus wanted people to know that he had no doubt about who he was (the Messiah), and what his (divine) purpose was (deliverance). True, everybody misunderstood both, trying to make him fit into what they wanted of him. But Jesus knew. What about you? Do you really know who you are? Do you know your divine purpose?

 

Prayer: Lord, I know you created me in a very special way (Psalm 139:13-14). Added to that there must be also some deeper reason why you redeemed me, saved me for yourself. Yet I am not always sure about who I am. Sure Lord, I know my name, my family; but sometimes I believe things and behave in ways that make me a stranger even to myself. I live my life without any higher purpose. Reveal to me O Lord the person that you want me to be. Show me your purpose in living that transforms not just me, but also touches every other person I meet in a positive (Godly) way. I want my choices to be meaningful because of what you are doing in my life. Amen.

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Week 10, Thursday, Mark 10:46-52

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 10:46-52

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

 

“Your faith has healed you.” We sometimes think that means we need to have “x units” (or some God-calculated quantity) of faith in order to make things happen for us. But the Bible is clear about the fact that nothing we can do makes things work in our favor. Grace means that it is all God’s initiative, all His work; and He does it purely based on His love for us, and not on what have done/can do for Him. So what about blind Bartimaeus? I believe Jesus did heal him by his power, because of his love for him. But Jesus also wanted Bartimaeus to desire something he could not do himself, which only God (Jesus) could do for/to him. In a way, that is faith, because it is desiring the impossible from the only One that can make it happen. However, will God give us every impossible, faith-filled desire, like he did Bartimaeus’? Not necessarily. But with each of those desires comes a dependency on a loving God who surely reciprocates with a love that meets us at the point of our need, even if not always in the way we want.

 

Prayer: Lord, give me the faith to keep desiring the best that you have in store for me. I know that I may not always get what I want. But the more I desire from you, the more I will learn to depend on you for what is best for my life. I know you are a God of love. Your giving of Jesus for me shows me that if you did not spare your only Son, you will surely not hold back anything else that is good for me. So I will keep desiring of you, and asking you, my Lord, because only you have what I really need. And if I have to learn to wait, give the patience to be faithful even in the waiting. Amen.

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Week 10, Wednesday, Mark 10:41-45

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 10: 41-45

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

 

Imagine a (power) pyramid. Worldly achievement and authority/power dictates that success is measured by the extent you go higher, reaching the tip, or “apex”. As you get closer to the apex, there are fewer people above you, and more people below you. Until you reach the tip; you’ve made it – you’re the top boss! Jesus changed this picture of greatness, giving new meaning to spiritual success; and he showed the way. Yes, it is good to have an ambition to reach the tip; but Jesus’ pyramid is inverted – upside-down! The closer he got to the apex, the more did he feel the weight/burden of the world on him. Until reached the tip, there where on a cross “the Lamb of God carried the sins of the whole world”. The measure of “Christ-greatness” is following his kind of ambition – downward on an inverted pyramid toward the tip, where greatness to manifested in being the servant of all. How ambitious are you?

 

Prayer: Give me an ambition Lord Jesus to be just like you. I know the world looks up to people that achieve much, people that crave recognition. Forgive me when I sometimes “slip” and want the same things too. But when I look at your life Lord Jesus, I see someone that had so many opportunities to use your “fan following” for your own ends, yet you walked away and instead became as a servant to wash your disciples’ feet and even give your precious life as a ransom, a payment, for ours. Teach me to be a servant Lord, just like you. And when the burden , the weight of those I carry for you seem too much for me, please grow your strength in me. I cannot do this by myself. I need you, and the sisters and brothers you’ve given me. Amen.

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Week 10, Tuesday, Mark 10:35-40

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 
 

Go to Mark 10:35-40

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

 

I’m sure that Jesus is a little amused by our heroic ambitions to do great things for him. James and John must have had such ambitions – after all they had left everything to follow Jesus, and now they wanted to be in positions of authority so that they could get things done for Jesus. I’m sure their reason for asking Jesus what they did had the best of intentions. But Jesus knew they were not ready for the “Kingdom way” of doing things. They would need to come to a place where they would willingly offer their very lives and embrace a life of suffering that Jesus embodied. Jesus knew they would, eventually. But that would happen after his death, resurrection, and the sending of the Holy Spirit into them. The question he lovingly asked them was, “Are you able..?” They didn’t really know what that question entailed, but they were sincere in their willingness to respond “Yes, we are able”. History shows that God did the rest. The question for us remains the same: “Are you able…?”

 

Prayer: Lord, I want to be somebody that you would be proud of; I want to do great things for you. But I mistakenly think I can do it on my own. But you have you way of preparing your servant for your purposes, don’t you Lord? The way to victory is always through a valley of some sort…often of suffering. Lord, hold my hand as I walk through those dark valleys. I know you are alive, ever Present, with me. In fact you have given your Holy Spirit to me when I first made you my Savior and Lord. So when my heart fails, and I am afraid, and the pain is too much for me to bear, hold me close to yourself. Give me the strength to be faithful so that I will indeed be able to say, Yes I am able, because of you. Amen.

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