It’s audio devo day! With this last episode in the Joy Series, it’s a wrap! … So lift up your cup to Heaven, and get ready for Holy Spirit to fill it supernaturally as you listen here:
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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Recognize these words? They form the famous opening to Charles Dicken’s classical work, A Tale of Two Cities. Though he wrote it in 1859, it almost seems like he was prophesying the times in which we are now living. I know – “the worst of times” part is easy to see. Today, however, I want to invite you to contemplate the other half of his description. These, my friend, are ALSO truly the best of times, for those who have eyes to see. For those who have ears to hear what Holy Spirit is saying to us all, these times are overflowing with hope.
With that in mind, let’s contemplate together another prophetic picture of our current chapter of history: “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you” (Isa. 60:1-2, NKJV).
As the Prophet Isaiah foresaw, deep darkness is covering people of the earth today. The darkness is blatantly easy to perceive. As a result, we so often get hung up and stop there, fixated on the inky blackness of our distressing world circumstances. But Holy Spirit issues a clarion call to our spirits with these powerful words: “Arise, shine; for your light has come!” This may be “the season darkness,” my friend. However, the darkness only serves as an acknowledgement of how brilliantly God’s light blazes in and through our lives. The blacker the darkness, the more splendidly we His people shine forth in the midst of it! This, above all else, is “the season of light.”
As we ponder this, I want to draw your attention to an incredibly important detail in Isaiah’s prophetic declaration. Consider this part of his description of God’s glory dawning over us, a few verses later: “Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy…” (v. 5). In these words we discover a fundamental facet of our glorious shining during this murky, shadowy season. What is it that makes us shine so radiantly? It is… supernatural joy. Amidst deep darkness, Holy Spirit is going to cause us to emanate the brilliance of His supernatural joy.
Does it seem unrealistic of God to speak of this resplendence during such profoundly difficult days? He knows. He’s here. He is not detached. He gets how unsettling these times are for you and me. He well knows that daily we are staring straight into the face of “the age of foolishness” and “the winter of despair.” He knows that many moments have been gut-wrenching and heart-breaking. And yet, He has declared that His own glory is going to be on display over our lives in the middle of it all.
But this feels so out of reach! He knows. He knows that we can’t singlehandedly manage something so lofty. He knows that we can’t do it alone. He understands that we can’t simply “try harder” and come up with glorious joy in the face of such uncertainty, grief, and rage. He knows that it’s going to have to be supernatural. He well knows that He’s going to have to pour it out on us by His Spirit. This is why He has pledged to us,
This, dear one, is why these are the best of times. We are alive on the planet today for the fulfillment of this promise! Jesus foresaw this too. The launch of His earthly ministry issued this same prophetic proclamation, through His first miracle. Turning water into wine, He caused the best to be saved for last. In the same way, God has saved the very best outpouring of His Spirit for these last days. For all who are hungry to feast on what He has reserved until now, He is spreading a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Even with darkness all around, He invites us to the banqueting table, to dine with Him, and to feast on… joy. He is making more joy available now than ever before in history, to those who will walk closely with Him.
My friend, it has to be Him. You won’t be able to make yourself more joyful. But He will. He is so eager to do so. Yet, to access His stores of joy available in heavenly places, you must respond to His beckoning. When He stands at the door of your spirit and knocks, let Him in. Come to the table He spreads for you in the presence of your enemies. Dine with Him. Banquet on His own joy that He shares with you.
Today, He is making His supernatural help abundantly available. These are the days that He is pouring out His Spirit on thirsty hearts. These are the days that He wants to exhibit our lives in the deep darkness like cities on the hills. Kings will come to the brightness of our dawning. Souls will be drawn to the brilliance of our light. God has promised a harvest of souls unprecedented in all of history, and He wants you and me right smack-dab in the middle of it.
But first He needs to anoint us with the oil of joy. The oil of joy drew multitudes of people to Jesus as He ministered here on the earth for three and a half years. The book of Hebrews says of Him, “God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy” (Heb. 1:9, NIV). Oil is one of the biblical symbols of the Holy Spirit, His anointing, and His presence. Holy Spirit is the One who imparts supernatural joy to us. This anointing of outstanding joy distinguished our Savior’s ministry. He was so joyful that it set Him apart and marked Him as an authority to follow. This is what God has for us, too.
Ask Him for the oil of joy. He will freely give it to all who come to Him. As He pours out His Spirit on us in these last days, joy will mark our lives as different from everyone around us. Malachi’s prophecy will come true for us: “Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him” (Mal. 3:18, ESV). What will this distinction be? Joy. Joy will set us apart and cause the spiritually hungry to flood to us from the darkness. Joy is the light that is dawning upon us.
Always remember, this is something that we desperately need Him to do for us. Even as we exercise our joy muscles and choose rejoicing and thanksgiving during hard times, we need His intervention. We need Him to anoint us with the oil of joy. When he does, we will exclaim with the Psalmist, “You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God, I can’t thank you enough” (Ps. 30:11-12, MSG, emphasis mine).
God did it. And He will continue to do it. During these times of deep darkness, He is the One. He will turn our mourning into dancing. He will dress us in garments of gladness as we set our faces to seeking His presence. He will set us apart in our generation by anointing us with the oil of joy.
These are truly the best of times, my dear friend. Today you can have more joy than ever in your life before, as you respond to His call to come and dine. Are you ready? As you feast on His intimate presence, He will pour out His Spirit on you.
Do you believe that Jesus’ joy is for you, personally?