Daily Devotionals

 
 

Week 8, Wednesday, Mark 9:2-13

 Mark Devotionals

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 9:2-13

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

 

It was an audio-visual treat, in real time, in real life – way before TV, 3-D, virtual reality had ever thrilled human imaginations. So you can’t blame Peter for what he said after the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah, and experienced Jesus being transformed right before their eyes to show a hint of what he really is in heaven. “…Let us put up three shelters/tents…” He wanted to immortalize the place and experience, and do it by memorializing Jesus along with Moses and Elijah. He got two things wrong which happens in our day too. First, we cannot keep holding on to one past divine place and experience; Jesus is constantly “on the move” and doing something new. Secondly, Jesus is not on the same level as good (and even great) people like Moses and Elijah. He is holy (which means distinct, special, set apart, different, to anything and everything else of creation). And we must relate to him not as an equal, but as Savior God.

 

Prayer: Lord, I love that hymn “what a friend we have in Jesus”, but I forget that I and no one else can really come close to you. Not even the best of us. It is because of your grace that you draw close to us; you give us access to your glorious Presence. Forgive me when I unconsciously put you “in a box” so that I can make you accessible and understandable the way I feel comfortable. Help me understand that the wonder of your love and majesty is that you are constantly moving onward and forward in this world. And even though you are the King of kings, you still love talking to, and using the likes of Moses, Elijah…and me. Amen.

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Week 8, Tuesday, Mark 8:35-9:1

 Mark Devotionals

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:35 – 9:1

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

 

It’s a question that we will need to answer sooner or later. What do I consider really, really important in life? What/Who takes the primary place in my life? Jesus and Scripture makes it very clear more than once that there was no place for more than one in a person’s soul – his/her very being. It’s either God or family (Luke 14:26); it’s either God or material/possessions (Luke 16:13); it’s either God or the world/pleasure (1 John 2:15-16); either God is our “treasure” or anything else/everything else is (Matthew 6:21). The sad part of it is that all the alternatives are what God gives us because He loves us! So, at every point Jesus asks that question, a fresh choice needs to be made every time. It’s those that have discovered that when they make the right choice – God – He gives us the alternative with added depth/beauty as well.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for so often choosing the gifts you give me over you, the Giver. I did not realize that when I consciously choose you, life does not diminish, but actually grows. I don’t want to forfeit my soul, Father, even for things that seem good, but actually take your place. Remind me again and again that “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). I want your life, Lord, that comes packaged with your love. Amen.

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Week 8, Monday, Mark 8:33-35

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:33-35

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

 

Jesus obviously didn’t bother about opinion polls or popularity contests. And he wasn’t trying to enlarge his following either – in fact what he said would scare prospective disciples away! He used scary words/phrases like “deny (or relinquish hold of) self”, “cross” (sure to send shivers down hearers’ spines), “follow me” (i.e. go where Jesus goes and live just like he did; cf. Luke 9:58), and “losing one’s life” (how easy is that?). But Jesus was actually showing a new, satisfying way for us self-depending, self-ish humans to live. When it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ, only total surrender, sacrifice, and faithfulness will bring us the life and joy that he promised. And the unique thing about all of it is that it requires only our giving him complete access to our lives for him to come in and make it happen!

 

 Prayer: Lord, you make being your disciple not easy. Following you is scary, because it seems that you ask too much for me to “give up.” Forgive me for secretly thinking that you are no fun! Keep reminding me that whatever you do in me, and ask of me is because you love me without limits, and you want what is best in my life. Help me understand that worldly “clutter” and selfish tendencies in my life leave no place for you to come in and cleanse me and fill me. All you ask is that I open myself completely to you. I know that means giving you complete control; but it also means that you will fill me with Resurrection power that will fill my life with compassion for others and a passion for you. Lord, I want to “see you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly”. Amen.

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Week 7, Saturday, Mark 8:31-33

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:31-33

[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!

 

After Peter’s amazing God-inspired confession that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (the anointed Deliverer), Jesus proceeded to clearly describe what would really happen to this Messiah. Popular expectations of Messiahship had to do with politics and power, which would have fit into Peter’s image of him. But Jesus’ Messiah was going to be a Suffering Servant – “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Peter and the rest of humanity find such a Messiah weak and useless, which is why he pulls Jesus aside to scold him for even talking about it. Jesus makes two observations. First, the Evil One can use even those closest to us to “trip” us. Second, unless we begin to see things from God’s perspective nothing of spiritual import will ever make sense to us.

 

Prayer: Loving Savior, I cannot bear to look at suffering. Whenever I look at it with my normal eyes all I see is pain. And I don’t want pain – not for me, not for those around me, not even for you. But your Spirit in me makes me see something completely different. I see that you had to go through it, or else I would never have been delivered from my own sin, my past, my pain. From a heaven-perspective I see there is no greater power than that of loving sacrifice. I know it hurt you, and when I do as you do it will hurt me as well. So give me the “mind of Christ” … to “do the things of God.” Amen.

 

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Week 7, Friday, Mark 8:27-30

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:27-30

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

 

“Who do you say I am?” That’s a strange question to ask someone who’s been with you constantly for three years. But before that Jesus does as opinion poll of his disciples as to what other people thought of him. Apparently there was talk about Jesus that made him fit in the prophetic line; what he did and how he did it fitted that profile. It is then that he asks this personal question of his disciples who had been with him about three years. Peter gave the right answer (and Matthew 16:17 tells us how), even if he doesn’t fully understand (as will be seen tomorrow). But the question is asked of us too. We think we know the answer: this is Jesus, my Savior. But is that enough? It wasn’t for Peter. It wasn’t for Paul as well; which is why he would write even after several years of knowing Him, “I want to know Christ…” (Philippians 3:10).

 

Prayer: Yes, I know you Jesus. You are my Savior; you are my Lord. But then I realize that I know almost nothing of your vast love and forgiveness, your majesty and holiness; I have only scratched the surface. I want to know, O Christ. I want to grow in this experience of who you within me and around me. I want to know your pain, your pleasure. “Oh, I want to know you more! Deep within my soul I want to know you. To feel your heart and know your mind, looking in your eyes stirs up within me, cries that say I want to know You…” Amen

 

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Week 7, Thursday, Mark 8:22-26

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:22-26

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

 

Here’s another miracle; Jesus heals a blind man. But notice a pattern: some (nameless) people bring the man to Jesus. They beg Jesus. They want him to touch him. Jesus first uses spit on the blind man’s eyes, then touches him. Are we people that bring others that are in need to Jesus – by word, by action, in prayer? How urgent is our plea to him for them? Do we really believe that all it takes is His touch to transform? The unique thing about this miracle though is that it took a second touch from Jesus for the man to fully see. I wonder, do we too need that “second touch” of Jesus to bring wholeness in our lives?

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus I can become dangerously comfortable with knowing you just enough that enables me to see only partially. It’s safer, because I can deal with you in generalities. But you singled me out in my circumstance and showed your gentle touch of love in my life. Touch me again Lord, because with each touch you get clearer, and I get closer to you. And yes, with my new vision I can see Your Purpose for me, and see you clearly enough that I may follow you. Amen.

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Week 7, Wednesday, Mark 8:14-21

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:14-21

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

 

Jesus loved his disciples. That’s why he warned them against the self-righteous pride of the Pharisees, and the self-serving ambition of Herod. They can be dangerously deceptive attitudes because they are easier to notice in others and rarely in our selves. But the disciples didn’t get what Jesus was trying to say! It’s as if they saw him speaking, but “heard” something completely different and irrelevant. Do we disciples not hear Jesus either because we just don’t want to, or because we listen for only what we want to hear? Jesus asks them a series of questions which give three reasons why we either don’t hear him, or we consistently misunderstand him: First, our perceptions (how we see, hear, feel) are clouded; second, our hearts are hardened; third, we’ve not taken the trouble to remember the times we did see and understand Jesus. How is it with your hearing and understanding?

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I’m afraid. Is your silence not really silence but my inability to hear you; is my confusion because I am not able to understand you? I realize that my perceptions (hearing, seeing, feeling) can get clouded if I’m not using them correctly, or not using them at all when it comes to you. I allow the world and bitter circumstances to harden my heart even when you are willing to soften it – if I let you. Forgive me, Lord, also for the times I’ve let words and acts of your love and faithfulness slip from my heart and mind. In your love, break through my unconscious yet very real self-made hindrances that keep me from growing closer to you. I really do want to see you, hear you, understand you, love you. Amen.

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Week 7, Tuesday, Mark 8:1-13

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 
 

Go to Mark 8:1-13

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

 

Crowds followed Jesus even when he tried to get some “alone time” for himself, and with his disciples. Were they really faithful in their following? Were any of them around to speak up for him at the end? John says that they followed him mostly because of what they could get from him – healing, food, and inspirational words (cf. John 6:26; 7:31). Isn’t that true about us so often? And yet Jesus was never impatient with them. The word Mark uses is that he had “compassion” on them, and therefore consistently ministered to them, whatever their response! So once again, Jesus feeds this huge crowd of people with nothing but a few loaves of bread and some fish. This time there are 4000+ people. And again there is enough food and more, evidenced by the 7 basketfuls of leftovers. And all because of “compassion.” He hasn’t changed; that’s still the way he treats us.

 

Prayer: Thank you, my Lord Jesus, that you show your compassion to everyone that follows you; and it is never conditional. You love us and meet our deepest needs irrespective of how we treat you. Which is why I ask your forgiveness, Lord. I have not given you the love, gratitude and respect you desire as my response to your love. Even though I may not have said so consciously, I have often treated you as a benevolent Santa Claus who exists to only keep giving me things. But you still don’t stop loving me; you give enough and more, just like those miracles. In fact, without my asking, you came to meet my greatest need – and give me what I needed most – newness and life. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

 
 

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Week 7, Monday, Mark 7:31-37

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 7: 31-37

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

 

Jesus traveled with his disciples through a Gentile region near where he had healed the man with a legion of unclean/evil spirits (5:1-20). It is most probably because of that healing that some people brought him a man who couldn’t hear or speak for healing as well. I wonder if we would have the same kind of faith that makes us “beg” the Jesus we say we know, to bring transformation to one who dearly needs it! Jesus touched the man’s tongue (notice the “touch” again) with some of his saliva (saliva was thought to have healing abilities), and commanded “Be opened!” In the healing of the man’s hearing and speech, it’s almost as if Jesus wants us too to be able to hear… Him; wants us too to be able to speak… as He would (and not just speak about Him).

 

Prayer: Lord, I wonder if my inability to hear you, and speak as you would, is because I too need your intimate touch of healing. Thank you for giving me people (whether they are family or friends) who trust you enough to bring me to you (in prayer or physically) for your touch that can transform everything. I yearn to hear you, Lord, and speak your words. So touch me that I too may be amazed by your love and power once again. Amen.

 
 

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Week 6, Saturday, Mark 7:24-30

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 7:24-30

[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!

 

A Greek (therefore non-Jewish) woman comes and asks Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus at first seems to refuse, and his answer sounds shocking. How could Jesus sound so uncaring, even elitist? How would you like to be compared with a dog (even if it is a “lap dog”/pet) while someone that disdains you is compared to a privileged child? There are several explanations that theologians give. But could it just be that even Jesus, being completely human, was so focused on being the Messiah to the Jews first, that he believed that the “time had not yet come” (cf. John 2:4; 3:30; 8:20) for including the non-Jews into the family of God as yet? Whatever the reason, even Jesus was astounded and deeply moved by the woman’s response. She was honest about her desperation, and showed deep humility. She also completely trusted in Jesus’ power, compassion, inherent character and mission to seek and save the lost, the last, and the least. Do you also believe that? Jesus did heal the little girl, but I get the impression that this foreigner touched his heart.

 

Prayer: Lord, your Word has often reminded me that I really do need you in every part of my life, my family, my world. I know that is true in my mind. But I do not realize the urgency in my heart, Lord. I am not desperate enough, honest enough, and humble enough to want you to meet my deepest needs. But you want me to do so. Oh, how I yearn to show the faith of that woman who not only received what she needed, but gave you pleasure even in the way she showed that need. Draw me closer to you, my Jesus, even as I learn to put you first in my life. Amen.

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