Daily Devotionals

 
 
 

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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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Week 13, Wednesday, Mark 14:32-42

Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 
 

Go to Mark 14:32-42

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

 

Gethsemane is one of the most personal moments of Jesus that is revealed to us. It is here that we see Jesus in such deep emotional and spiritual anguish that it affected him physically (Luke 22:44). He yearned for his Father’s Presence and he depended on his close friends’ prayer support. But as he struggled with what lay ahead he knew that only he had to face the destiny that awaited him. No one could do it for him. Ever been there before? You may or may not have human support (he didn’t – his friends were asleep!), you will have God’s Presence in your most dire need (an angel was sent to strengthen him, Luke 22:43); but only you can fulfill the Purpose that your Maker and Redeemer has fashioned you for. Jesus did his Father’s will because finally that’s what he wanted to do. What will yours and my desire be?

 

Prayer: Thank you Lord Jesus that even though the decision was far from easy, your desire was always to be obedient to your Father’s will. You wanted to do what the Father had planned not only because you loved Him, but also because you loved me. There was no other way I could be saved except that you “drank that cup”! And you were vindicated by being raised from the dead. Give me the courage and strength to do the same. Not only because I love you, but also because of my love for those you have placed me among. I want to be obedient to your will even in the face of affliction and touch others’ lives in a way that will bring you pleasure and glory. Amen.

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Week 13, Tuesday, Mark 14: 27-31

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 14:27-31

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

 

How confident are we of our relationships? Can we ever say with finality that we will never disappoint – or hurt – those closest to us? And how would it feel when that loved one knows that we will fall short when they need us most, and disappoint them? Jesus knew that all his disciples would desert him as he got closer to the Cross, and even told Peter that he (Peter) would deny him. And it did happen despite their refusal to agree with him. Two points: First, it is good to have self-esteem, but I believe that it is even better to live with a knowledge of our own weaknesses. We should accept the reality that in our sin-weakened humanness we are in danger of falling especially when we think we are at our strongest (in our own strength). Second, be encouraged that Jesus knows our every weakness (that’s why he predicts it to Peter). But he still sticks with us – never giving up on us!

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me what Paul learned – that when I know and accept that I am weak, that is when I am really strong…in You (2 Corinthians 12:10). You are, and have always promised me to be my strength. Forgive me for my foolishness when I trust in my own strength and abilities. True, it is you that have given them to me, but I unconsciously begin trusting in the gifts rather than the Giver. Thank you, that like you did Peter, you never give up on me, even when I fail and disappoint you – as long as I turn back to you. Amen.

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Week 13, Monday, Mark 14:12-26

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

Go to Mark 14:12-26

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

 

The Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion as it’s called in many churches, is one of the most meaningful acts of worship in Christianity. But there are two things about this passage that never grow “old” on me. The first is Jesus’ statement that one of his own disciples eating with him at this deeply significant Jewish meal – the Passover – would betray him (v.18). And then (Jesus) goes on to serve that betrayer the bread and wine (which would become the components of the Lord’s Supper) as well, as if to show that the betrayal did not change how much Jesus loved him. (Most probably the washing of the Disciples’ feet was also done at this same event, so Jesus washed the betrayer’s feet as well!) The second is when he gives the bread and the wine to those same disciples (betrayer included), and he says, “This is my body… This is my blood.” It was a complete giving of himself – for/to his disciples. Paul would later give deeper meaning to this: this was God giving His forgiveness, His righteousness to us – completely (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 

Prayer: My Lord, what love is this that pays so dearly, that I, the guilty one may go free! Amazing love, O what sacrifice; the Son of God given for me. My debt He pays, and my death He dies. That I might live, that I might live … (from “Amazing Love” by Graham Kendrick).

May I never forget O loving Lord Jesus that you died for me even when you knew I would desert you, deny you, betray you. By giving your whole life for my sake, for each of humanity’s sake, you showed that you value each of us as you would yourself. My sin and brokenness made me worthless; your love made me priceless, a treasure. Thank you for your sacrifice, Lord Jesus, thank you for giving your all for me. I cannot live without you. May you always, only, be my life. Amen.

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Week 12, Saturday, Mark 14:1-11

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 14:1-11

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

 

John identifies the woman as Mary (John 12:1-8), Martha’s and Lazarus’s brother. Nothing is mentioned as to a reason behind her deed. What is clear is that the alabaster jar (or vase) had very expensive perfume in it, and Mary broke it to anoint Jesus with it. The deed affected everyone in the room. Jesus received it as loving ministry done to him, an act of worship preparing him for the death he knew awaited him. (As an aside: this was a prophetic act similar to the wise men’s gift of myrrh months after Jesus’ birth, the very same substance used to anoint him after his death). Some disciples (and host) were repelled by what they called a waste and inappropriate act. And Mary? Anne Ortlund in her book Up with Worship says it best:

“Mary broke her vase. Broke it? How shocking. How controversial. Was everybody doing it? Was it a vase-breaking party? No, she just did it all by herself. What happened then? The obvious: all the contents were forever released. She could never hug her precious nard (perfume) to herself again…The way up is down! The Holy One lives among broken people. Christian, break your vase. Help your brothers and sisters break theirs…Then life will begin to mingle and flow around you and fill the whole church with the fragrance of Jesus…The nard fills the air. Beautiful! Take a deep breath.”

And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (v.3)

 

Prayer (written by Anne Ortlund from “Up with Worship”): Lord, break my strong will, my argumentativeness, my quickness to reach decisions ahead of others and always think I’m right, my desire to have my opinion always considered. I’m sure I’m obnoxious, Lord – maybe embarrassing to those closest to me. Forgive me, and help my fervent spirit be converted into just being fervent in loving you, fervent in joy, fervent in peace… Lord, break me. Thank you for doing it. Amen.

Listen to Anne Ortlund’s, Up with Worship

Nashville: B & H, 2001.


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Week 12, Friday, Mark 13:28-37

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 13:28-37

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

 

Children do this well – keeping watch for a parent to come home after a period of time. The parent’s return is anticipated and celebrated, all because of the love relationship between that parent and child. (The exception is when that parent makes such a habit of being away and shows no reciprocal yearning; their coming or going makes little difference!) Jesus wants his return (what we normally call “the second coming”) to be as anticipated. The only difference is that we will not know when. It will be a surprise, but is meant to be a pleasing and welcome surprise. Unless we are not prepared for him – then it will come as a shock! Jesus actually encourages us about being prepared. In the first place he lets us know that as a disciple he entrusts us with Kingdom responsibility that involves other souls. And secondly he gives us the wisdom (if we ask) to be able to see the signs of his coming that will, in turn encourage us to be faithful. The question is: how prepared are you?

 

Prayer: Your Word says that if anyone lacks wisdom they should ask in faith, and you will give it. I need your wisdom, Lord, to be able to see the times and where our world is heading. I know this is not to feel sorry for ourselves or find fault with the world. It is to feel excited about your coming back, so that we will be with the One that loves us more than anyone in all creation. It is also to move us to fulfil our responsibilities as your disciples to a world of lost and neglected souls – to care for them and bring them into your Kingdom. I’m learning to watch for you Lord Jesus; teach me to wait faithfully. Amen.

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