In this 11th edition of our devotion, two concepts were discussed, namely love and joy. Both parts minister effectively to the lives of many people in the world. It will be impactful if you can take each part seriously and act. You may locate other editions here.

PART 1: LOVE

Day 1: Sacrificial Love

This article reminds me of the story of a missionary in a neighbouring West African country. This missionary went on a trip while a student pastor stayed with his family. One day, the missionary’s wife suddenly heard a strange noise from her daughter’s room in the night.

On getting to her daughter’s room she discovered that it was the student pastor who wanted to forcefully have carnal knowledge of the young girl. She expressed surprise at the action of the pastor and warned him not to attempt such an act again. However, not long after, the girl cried out again and the mother went to rescue her immediately. The pastor then ran into the kitchen, took a knife and stabbed the mother and daughter to death.

Though he tried to escape, the news had gone out and this made the police recognize and arrest him at the country’s border. On his return, the missionary buried his wife and daughter. He later visited the police cell where the pastor was detained. He told the police that he had forgiven the pastor because he was a Christian. He explained that the Lord Jesus wants Christians to forgive everyone who offends them.

Although it is very painful, this missionary demonstrated the life of a true disciple of Jesus Christ by forgiving an offender who did not deserve to be forgiven. That is agape, true love. Love desires to seek and apply what God has to say. God’s love is His ultimate power available to Christians. We are to be fuelled and empowered by love in all situations. The focus of this lesson is to examine what love is, the lifestyle of someone who loves, and what can motivate someone to love.

Prayer: Pray to be fuelled with genuine love.

Day 2: Love: An Essential Attribute of God

Love is divine; it is an essential attribute of God. It is that attribute in Him that compels Him to love sinners, even those who hate Him; it makes Him forgive and forget all offences and draw the forgiven sinner to Himself. Beyond the faculties of feeling and reasoning, the Lord reaches out to His creation with unlimited compassion. The Bible reveals this attribute of God in John 3:16;”For this is how God loved the world: He gave his unique Son so that everyone who believes in him might not be lost but has eternal life.”(ISV)

Adam could manifest the attribute of love in its true nature until he fell into sin. The fall damaged everything including Adam’s capacity to love in God’s way. From then on, what remains in humankind is the contaminated version of the divine attribute.

Prayer: pray to see loving other people as an essential thing.

Day 3: The Lifestyle of Love

The original Bible word for true love is “Agape”. It differs greatly from contaminated love which is concerned first with the interest of the “lover” because in agape love the “loved” is considered more important.

It is only when a person believes in Jesus Christ that his/her capacity for the original love is restored by the Holy Spirit who gives the believer a new nature. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV. As a Christian, you can manifest the original love (agape) because you have the nature of God in you. The Word of God says, “Dear friends, we must love each other because love comes from God.

Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God.” (John 4:7) You must love God as well as the people around you irrespective of who they are. Genuine love must be both vertical(towards God) and horizontal(toward fellow human beings). A person who loves genuinely does not think of what he/she would gain but what he/she would give. Never think you cannot show genuine love to those who you think do not deserve it. The ability to love genuinely is in you. You are expected to demonstrate genuine love in your home, workplace and all relationships.

Prayer: Make love a lifestyle.

Day 4: How to Cultivate Love

As a disciple of Jesus, you are expected to grow in love towards God and toward the people around you, especially believers. Certain factors can aid believers in developing a lifestyle of love. These include:

Genuine Conversion: A natural person who has not had an encounter with Jesus cannot have genuine love; it is only given at the new birth. Even those who attend church without the experience of conversion cannot have genuine love. Only those who have received forgiveness for their sin and Jesus’ gift of eternal life can know and give genuine love to others. Read 1 John 3:10.

Being led by the Holy Spirit: Love is a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit. You must allow the Holy Spirit to live freely in you so that He may produce His fruit(love) in your life.

Obeying Christ’s Teaching: Our lives are ruled by what we believe is true. You must, therefore, discard all traditional beliefs that are contrary to the Word of God. Christ’s teachings are the truth of God. Christ teaches us to love God and love our neighbours. You must live by this teaching as a disciple of Jesus, no matter the situation.

Conclusion

You may have great faith, you may have wonderful gifts but if you lack true love (agape), your life cannot please God. Love is that seasoning that gives sweetness to relationships in all its ramifications. Change your mind today; let the Holy Spirit develop love in you towards that person you hate.

PART TWO: JOY

Day 5: Measure of God’s joy

The Bible says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength. This is because every Christian can have a measure of God’s joy in their heart, no matter the situation one going through. Without God’s joy operating in your life, things can begin to go dry. How can we exhibit joy in life? What can we do to develop a more joyful attitude? How can we enjoy and exhibit the joy of the Lord even in times of uncertainty? Let us sit back and enjoy today’s discussion.

Prayer: Give me joy that cannot be measurable.

Day 6: What Is Joy?

Joy is the inner feeling of excitement and strength. What brings this inner feeling or excitement could be real or expected; it could also be a prospect of possessing what we love or desire. Joy is much more than happiness because it is both God’s gift as well as an attitude every believer should cultivate to be what God wants them to be; do what He wants them to do; and have what He wants them to have. 4

Only a believer can have true joy because it is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer. For unbelievers, ‘joy’ depends on the external things that happen around them. They exhibit joy when things around them permit it but exhibit sadness when their environment permits the same. Success, promotion, childbirth and material blessings normally stir up joy in the hearts of unbelievers.

This is why l believe that what unbelievers for believers, is joy is an inner thing. It does not depend on external conditions. A believer’s joy depends on the fundamental fact of the sovereignty of God and of the equity of the divine government of the world.

(Psalm 93:1;96:10;97:1)  A Christian’s joy depends on the finished work of Christ on the cross at Calvary. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the One who produces joy in believers. As long as He is in believers, the spirit of joy will always manifest.

Prayer: Let my joy depend on you, God.

Day 7: How to Cultivate Joyful Attitude

Fellowship with God: Joy is a natural outcome of fellowship with God. Read Psalm 16:11(NIV How can we have joy? Joy is a fruit of the Spirit which blossoms out of every life that is born again and Spirit-filled. We can feel joy each time we fellowship with other believers in the presence of God. Also, your joy can be revived when you spend time alone with the Lord.

You must cultivate the habit of spending time alone with God, meditating on His Word and praying. It must be a daily exercise; it will keep you connected to the living God, the source of joy.

Love your neighbours: True joy is found in obedience to the teachings of Christ. Read John 15:10(NIV). You can experience joy unspeakable when you show love to people around you through your actions, when you forgive their shortcomings and when you share the gospel of Jesus with them.

Have hope: Hope is a virtue that lifts the eyes of a believer above and ahead into the future. When hope is in operation, you will experience it despite your challenges in life. Read 1 Peter 1:8(NIV).

Have faith: Faith sees God’s ability and does what is impossible. A believer, therefore, will rejoice when he/she can have faith in God, knowing that God can handle every situation. Anyone who has faith in God has no reason to be sad because he or she has a permanent link with the living God, the source of joy.

Joy in Times of Certainty and Uncertainty: The Lord Jesus did not promise us, His disciples, a problem-free world. Rather, He assured us of His comforting presence in this world because of the troubles we may likely face. Read John 16:33, KJV. The Lord Jesus enjoins us to rejoice not because of evil but because divine justification is our portion both here on earth and in life hereafter. Endeavour to see beyond the present turmoil, trials and tribulations. The hour of pain will soon be over.

Apostle Paul lived a life of joy in the face of challenges, persecutions and tribulations. He made this clear through his letters to some of the early churches. Read  He said, Colossians 1:24, Philippians 2:17 and Romans 5:2-3

Conclusion

You have joy and you can rejoice always. You must appropriate God’s gift of joy in your life; cultivate this attitude of joy always whether things are difficult or easy, beautiful or ugly, full or empty, bearable or unbearable. Remember, the joy of the Lord is your strength.