I was listening to Pastor Banning Liebscher tell a story the other day on the Jesus Culture podcast. He was remembering a time he went on a spelunking adventure. The guide took them deeper and deeper into the cave until they could no longer see even their hands in front of their faces. At that point, he instructed them to turn their flashlights on. The only problem was, the batteries had not been checked, and only a few of them worked. Pastor Banning recalls that, real quick, all those without a flashlight were huddling close to those that had them!
What an apt spiritual picture for the time in which we are living right now. The light of the world lives inside of you and me, my friend! Whether you are “feeling it” or not, His light never, ever goes out. Which is why Jesus could state so confidently, you are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden! Our emotions may vary from day to day, but His light never stops shining forth from the inside of you. Right now, there are so many people around you that need the supernatural light you have. As God shines His brilliant light through you, they will be drawn to you in the darkness.
Today’s verse ties right into the idea of our shining. “Let them ever sing for joy.” Tell me, though. Does God really mean for us to perpetually sing for joy? Is this phrase a hyperbole, a poetic exaggeration? I firmly believe it is more than that. The reality these words describe is within reach. It is entirely possible. Joy is the second fruit of the Holy Spirit. It’s our birthright. And it’s available all the time, both in difficult seasons and happy ones.
Consider these Scriptures:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4, NKJV).
Paul wrote those last words from the cruelty of prison. He was enduring suffering far worse than being quarantined to his comfy home. And yet, he seemed so sure that we should all be able to rejoice… not just when we are comfortable and happy, but… always. He was so sure, in fact, that he made sure to repeat himself for emphasis! “Again I will say, rejoice!”
Why was he so confident about this? Because he was living it. In the midst of severe discomfort, his spirit was experiencing joy. Here’s the beautiful news. The very same Holy Spirit that lived inside of him, lives inside of you and me. We can have joy during this quarantine!
Holy Spirit is inviting us to a specific action through Philippians 4:4. We can always, always choose to rejoice. We can always, always choose to praise Him, which will in turn lift our spirits up in faith. I can testify to this. Last year while my little Lily was in a coma, Holy Spirit empowered me to praise Jesus. I would put on “Raise a Hallelujah” and sing at the top of my lungs, fixing my eyes on Jesus. (After that trial, this current one is easier for me to categorize as “light and momentary”! However, Paul used those same three words to describe beatings, shipwreck, and imprisonment. Hmmm…)
Here’s the bottom line. Let’s you and me get our praise on today! Let’s rejoice on purpose! Because of Jesus’ love, we have every reason to always live in joy, no matter what is happening in our lives!
This, my beloved friend, is how we let our lights shine!
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.”
(Hab. 3:17-19, NLT, emphasis mine)
Has Holy Spirit helped you develop more joy as you’ve been growing in Him? Have any particular strategies helped? If so, which ones?