The read through the Bible in a year scriptures for today are: Leviticus 10:22-22:16; Mark 9:1-29; Psalm 43:1-5; and Proverbs 10:18. This devotional piece focuses on a portion of Leviticus, Mark, and the Psalm.
I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
In today’s Old Testament reading, we see many rules, regulations, and instructions for priests. One might read through and think, “What’s the importance of this? We don’t even have priests in our church today.” But when we consider I Peter 2:9, the importance becomes quite clear. Peter wrote this book to New Testament Christians, calling them priests. That means us!
The death and resurrection of Christ erased the need for priests to make sacrifices on our behalf. There is no longer a need for priests to stand before God in the Holy of Holies because we ourselves can go boldly to God’s throne (Hebrews 4:16). Although some of the regulations, such as those about animal sacrifices, do not apply to us now, the principles taught within the Levitical passages do apply.
God instructs his priests to “not live according to the customs of the people I am driving out before you (Leviticus 20:23a).” God is calling his people to be set apart. He wants us to live differently from the world. He calls us to live in accordance to his laws and grace. We have to walk a fine line because it is not through rules that we are saved. We are saved by grace, but if we walk in the light of God’s love, there should be a difference between the way we live and the way the lost live. There is no greater compliment to the Christian than for someone to say, “I just knew you were a Christian.” When we live according to God’s word, our light should shine for others to see; Christian and non-Christian alike.
As we strive to live a set apart life, we are not immune to struggles. In today’s Psalm, David asks, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart sad?” Some think that Christians should never feel depression; that they should always be up. This simply is unrealistic. David, who was described as a man after God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14), experienced discouragement. But just as Jesus cast the demon out of a boy, He also proclaims freedom for us.
A few years ago I experienced a deep and dark depression. I wrote the following in my journal:
I want to be free of this weight that I’m carrying. I want to be free from the depressive darkness. I want out. I feel trapped in an impenetrable metal box. There’s just one small, barred window up high that I can’t see out of. It lets in a bit of light, but sometimes I would rather have the darkness. The light only seeks to reveal that I am trapped. I can’t get out! …. There are no doors in my box and I don’t totally know how I got in… I imagine what it’s like outside of my box-trap and that only makes being in it worse. I am angry! I hate this box! I kick and scream and hit the sides, but it does no good. I’ve cried until I’m exhausted. I’ve beat the sides until my hands are bloody, but it does no good. I can’t get out.
God moved in a miraculous way in my life. It wasn’t instantaneous like the demon-possessed boy’s freedom. It was a process, but today I no longer live in that box. I have hope, and I live in freedom. My heart echoes the words of David, “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again- my Savior and my God!”
My prayer for those of you living in boxes, or oppressed by demons, is that you will find your hope in God and live in freedom.