Daily Devotionals

 
 

Week 10, Monday, Mark 10:32-34

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 10:32-34

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

 

Why did the Gospel writers record Jesus talking about his death (and resurrection) three times to his disciples/followers? Some were beginning to fear as they neared Jerusalem, so why would Jesus keep telling them what they were not wanting to hear? It could be that Jesus saw his calling very clearly, a calling that involved death. But the event of death was not the only thing that he wanted his disciples to remember. I believe that Jesus wanted them (and us) to know that he knew what awaited him in Jerusalem, and willingly went to it, because it involved yours, mine and humanity’s destiny! Jesus wanted us to know that his love for us was so great, not even the worst kind of death would stop him – in fact that was the only way he could bridge the gap between a sinful humanity and a holy God (cf. John 10:15, 17-18). And besides, note that each time he ends the prediction with the promise of his rising – something he wants us all to look forward to.

 

Prayer: Thank you for loving me so deeply Lord Jesus, so that “no one took your life from you, but you laid it down of your own accord…” for me, your sheep. Remind me Lord that the deepest expression of love is to give your all, something that you did for a world of undeserving broken people – sinners including me. Forgive me for the times I have doubted your love, and allowed fear to choke me. You did not intend for me to be a victim of my circumstances, but a victor over them. That’s the message of your death and resurrection – your love will always win in the end. In the meantime grow my faith so that through my own times of suffering I will be reassured that you were there first. Amen.

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Week 9, Saturday, Mark 10:24-31

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 10:24-31

[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 was not really saying that riches prevent a person from entering the Kingdom of God. He was really saying that anything and everything of this world prevents us from doing so. Unless God took the initiative we humans really were doomed! And God did just that. He made the impossible possible by doing the impossible – Creator becoming a creature, and actually dying as a creature. (How could Someone like God actually die? By being Jesus!) But even after all the work is done by God, we do need to respond. That’s all that’s needed- our response. And the man walked away. The disciples didn’t. And I guess that’s why they’re called disciples – they followed and the returns far out-weighed the investment. That’s Jesus’ promise. Always.

 

Prayer: May I never put anything before you Lord. Not even the good things you have given me. Thank you for your promise that what I will receive from you will far out-weigh I can ever put into our relationship. But I don’t really want to follow you for the rewards, Lord. I want to follow you because I love you. You did not give yourself for me Jesus because you thought of me as a “good investment”. Because I am not. You did it because you loved me, and your Word says that you will always love me. I want to follow you because I love you Jesus. And no other reason. Amen.

 

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Week 9, Friday, Mark 10:17-25

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 10:17-25

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

 

The young man who came to Jesus was rich, and sincere in the way he lived out his Jewish faith. Though I wonder whether he asked that question of Jesus because he actually felt he lacked something, or because he was trying to “cover all his bases”. But Jesus took his question at face value; Jesus never pre-judges people even though he knows what is in each person’s heart (John 2:24). Jesus answers the young man and told him what he lacked. I’m not sure if the man felt he lacked anything. Remember? He’s rich. And that emptiness could be filled only if he (ironically) emptied himself of what prevented him from receiving true treasures – a relationship with Jesus himself. Do you know what you lack? And do you trust Jesus’ prescription to fill it?

 

Prayer: Father, you have blessed me with so much. And yet I keep running after “things.” After all, if I was filled, satisfied, why would I want more – more “things”, more clothes, more food, more money, more respect, more power? Is it that I don’t know my own lack? Can it be true that the very same things I use to fill my “lack” are really what’s preventing me from being filled by you? Lord, show me myself. Show me what I lack. Then give me the faith and courage to follow your prescription. After all you are the Great Physician! Amen.

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Week 9, Thursday, Mark 10:13-16

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 10:13-16

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

 

Jesus’ love for children is obvious in this passage. He refused to be too busy for them; in fact he took the time to bless them. As adults do we find time to “bless” the children that God gives to us, whether as parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and teachers? Do we impart God’s fullness and goodness in ways that they understand that they (the kids) are actually receiving a gift – a gift from God? But Jesus went further. He used them as the standard for entry into the Kingdom of God. It was the simplicity, trust, and whole-heartedness of the little child that implicitly trusted God that Jesus wanted to see in His followers.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus I remember the days when as a child I used to enjoy hearing stories about you. I remember how I would be filled with wonder on hearing about your miracles. I felt sadness when I heard they put you on the cross to die. Why is it that I no longer feel that way? When I “lost” my childhood, did I lose you too? Have I become so sophisticated that I no longer think you’re the greatest – King, Ruler, Creator? Forgive me, Lord. I make myself as a child before you. I want to feel the wonder and amazement once again of who you really are. Amen.

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Week 9, Wednesday, Mark 10:1-12

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 10:1-12

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

 

The marriage relationship was completely God’s idea! He built it into Creation, when He made everything else, and it is that same “creation perspective” that Jesus reminds us of when we bring up any issues that have to do with marriage. Jesus was reminding people that marriage was as much to do with a new identity as it had to do with procreation. It is true that marriage was to bring a woman and man together in order to do what the rest of Creation Days #5 & #6 living creatures were to do: to be fruitful and increase. But for humans it is so much more. Marriage would be the formation of a whole new identity – one from two. It was within this kind of marriage relationship that two individuals were to experience and behold a mutual transformation and pleasure of each other that God intended. So, before we find fault with any other person or relationship, let those of us who are spouses ask ourselves: What have I given of myself to contribute to this “new identity/creation” that God wants me to be an integral part of? How has every facet of our relationship – physical, emotional/intellectual, social, spiritual – been geared towards a “oneness” that grows…and shows?

 

Prayer: Thank you Almighty God, that you made us humans to be and grow in relationship with each other. You gave us the abilities and gifts to enjoy these relationships; most importantly you put inside us an essential ingredient – love. You know that the only way we can “grow up” is to use this love in our relationships – as you intend us to. But sin has messed up the love you created me with. I see relationships for what I can get out of them. I may not admit it Lord, but so often even my marriage is tainted with a selfishness that subtracts from that growing oneness and newness you intend for all married couples to have. Forgive me, Lord. I need your love in my heart so very much. Only with your love in me can I give of myself to another as you would want me to, according to your plan to make “two” a whole new “one”. Amen.

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Week 9, Tuesday, Mark 9:42-50

Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram 

 

Go to Mark 9:42-50

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

 

Jesus gives a curious contrast. First, on the one hand he warns how even one aspect of a person can bring ruin to that person if he/she does not control it. Much like an over-fondness for food can lead to the body’s over-all ill health. Jesus’ solution? Be harsh/stern in our self-discipline with respect to that one aspect. But it’s even more dangerous when one person in a Christian fellowship by ungodly attitudes and actions causes spiritual harm to another, especially when that other person is a “spiritual child”. It just goes to show how careful we must be when it comes to others’ faith and our own sense of righteousness: we can never be over-confident in ourselves, and always trust in God instead. Then second, on the other hand, Jesus reminds us that when it comes to being a godly influence, we can never do that alone – we need other godly people in some way. Just like one grain of salt brings very little taste; you need many ‘grains’ of salt together to do that.

 

Prayer: Lord, save me from myself, especially when I’m over-confident in my own sense of righteousness. I know I should take nothing for granted, because the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Not only can I cause myself spiritual harm, I can well cause it to others too. Help me too to depend completely on you, and on the other godly people you place me among, even as you use us together to influence others for your sake. May we as your ‘body’ be effective, fruitful and humble as you build your church. Amen.

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Week 9, Monday, Mark 9:38-41

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go To Mark 9: 38-41

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

 

Sometimes our spirit of competition can be the Church’s undoing. When the same work is being done with similar good results by someone else, we are to rejoice in it. Yes, they may differ with us in some ways, yet it is the same Jesus they serve, and it is He who seems to be given the glory. So why do we sometimes feel negatively about them? Jesus encouraged His disciples to find what is common with those that are also participating in Kingdom-building even if they belong to a different group and have a different way in perceiving Him, Jesus. A good way to relate with other Christians is reflected in a 300-year old saying: In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity. Ultimately our primary witness is God’s Love in us!

 

Prayer: Forgive me Lord for being either judgmental, or suspicious, or unaccepting of those I don’t agree with or don’t belong to “my group” – even when they too are Christians. Remind me Jesus that you didn’t need to accept me because of my sin, yet you not only accepted me when I fell upon your grace, you even made me your child and came to live in me. Thank you Lord! Now transform the way I see others, so that I see them through your eyes – either as a saved soul (and therefore a sister or brother), or one that you yearn to make your child. Amen.

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Week 8, Saturday, Mark 9:30-37

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 9:30-37

[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!

 

The disciples had just heard Jesus telling them about the sacrifice that he was about to make, something they couldn’t understand. And then they began arguing about who was the greatest among them. It was as if they had heard nothing of what he said. I wonder if Jesus ever said, “Don’t you ever understand what I’m telling you?” Or, “Why are you so preoccupied with authority, fame and greatness? Is that why you are following me?” Instead he patiently taught them about humility. If we really desire greatness from God’s perspective we should do as Jesus did, always putting the “other person” first/before us. More than that, we are to take on a life of serving every one of those “other persons.” It would reflect His love, His humility.

 

Prayer: Forgive me Lord, for putting myself first; for making people want to notice me for my faith and even the good things I do. And sometimes I even get jealous when another of your children is recognized, and I am not. You put others first in your life Lord Jesus while I wait for others to serve me. Forgive me. May I reflect your life of love and humility in the way I put others ahead of me. May your love cause me to serve others as if I was serving you. I humble myself before you Lord. Amen.

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Week 8, Friday, Mark 9:20-27

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

 

Go to Mark 9:20-27

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

 

Let’s spend a little more time in yesterday’s “valley” event, focusing on the afflicted boy’s father and Jesus. The boy’s affliction which often threatened to be fatal obviously spanned many years, years that would make any parent’s heart to despair. And then came news of hope – a healer in town! So the father begs Jesus to heal his son…if he can. In the subsequent exchange we learn a few things about belief. Firstly belief in God begins with the conviction that the outcome is completely dependent on God. Second is the question of whether I trust that this God cares enough and is capable of doing it. Third, do I know this God and personally want him to do it. Fourth, whatever the outcome, do I really want my experience of this loving God to grow because of/through it? The father’s answer (“I believe; help my unbelief!”) is less about any doubts or lack of faith he had; it is more about a yearning to grow in the knowledge and trust of the One who can change even the most dire situation. Jesus always answers that yearning – it’s a good one to have!

 

Prayer: I believe; help my unbelief! That’s a prayer I pray often Lord. I don’t doubt you exist; I believe that you have the power to move mountains. And yet I resist asking; what if it’s the wrong thing? I’m afraid to expect anything; what if I’m disappointed? Oh, how I want to know you in a way that takes away all resistance and fear! I want to know you as a much-loved child that deeply trusts his/her loving parent. Help me to experience that love both in receiving what I ask for and when I am denied, trusting that it’s for my own sake. Draw me close to you Lord, even when I falter. Because if I fall, I’d rather fall into your arms. Amen.

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Week 8, Thursday, Mark 9:14-29

 Mark Devotionals

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 9:14-29

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

 

As the 3 disciples and Jesus come down from the mountain after that fantastic spiritual experience of seeing and hearing God’s Presence, they are immediately confronted by the evil that was waiting for them in the valley. A boy tormented by evil and his father needed God’s grace to change their oppressive situation. It is always good to have “mountain-top” spiritual experiences where we feel or hear or see God in a thrilling way – maybe at a community meeting like worship or a conference, or maybe in private while studying Scripture and praying. But God doesn’t expect or want us to stay there. He expects us to descend to the “valley” where there is pain, suffering, and evil. He wants us to understand that however great our own personal spiritual experiences, there are people who struggle with the manifestations of evil, and He will place us among them to be a blessing to them! Because that’s the way Jesus can grow in us, and shine through us. Jesus touched the boy in the valley with God’s love and healing. What about us?

 

Prayer: God Almighty, I just love to be in your Presence and experience you – far from hustle, bustle and worries of the world. Thank you for meeting my need and giving me your grace that fills me with your love and peace. But I know I need to come down from my spiritual “mountain”. There is a valley full of pain and suffering, much like I had before I met you (or when I ignored you). Lord, work through me to bring your grace to the boy or girl or father or mother that yearns for your touch and experience your love as well. Amen.

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