One more lesson tonight in the “Divine Initiative” series here in Chillicothe OH, on “The Family of God.” The Lord’s grace gives us community. We cannot survive alone. We need each other. God created us as social beings, as souls who need fellowship for growth and service. The key word is love. The spiritual family deserves greater priority than the physical. It is more important. Let us live in family, and learn to serve and love.

The closer you are to the people of God, the closer you will be to God. Arms-length faith is a dying faith. Punch-card religion knows nothing of the Lord. Those who would walk closely and continually with the Lord must often be in the presence of of Christ’s church. To love in deed and action is to seek out opportunities to serve and encourage one’s spiritual family.

So it would appear there’s a chiasmus in 1 Pet 3.8, with similar ideas mirrored in the five elements:

Finally, all of you, have
A. unity of mind,
B. sympathy,
X. brotherly love,
B’. a tender heart, and
A’. a humble mind.

The ESV quote above appears to reflect in the translation of the terms in A/A’ the –phron ending of the Greek words.

Let all that you do be done in love, wrote the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians. One who has no love for the Lord is accursed, he said. Last, he transmits his love to all of his brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. He had said earlier that love for God causes one to be known by God. Let love, then, penetrate every pore. Let it motivate every move you make. Let it be your beginning point and your end. Hang upon the two greatest commandments all the teaching of Christ. Talk about it all the time. Practice it according to truth. Live in love and for love. For love, O Soul, never dies.

Do not fear to speak truth to those outside of Christ, and to those who need encouragement and correction in the Body. O Soul, you need to hear words of comfort, love, and exhortation. Those around you need them, too. Let your love for souls be known. Make compassion the spring of your speech and actions. Keep saving grace your focus, and eternal salvation your goal, for you and for all. Want heaven for yourself and others. Speak of it at all times. Nothing else matters, really. If you lose this, all is lost. So many depend on you to hear the gospel as well. If you don’t speak, they will have no hope. Yes, the responsibility is great, and the rewards are even greater.

Everlasting love is Ed M.’s devotional thought today, from Jeremiah 31.3. His final prayer is poignant:

You, O Lord, are infinite love. Thank You for Your care. Draw me. Lift me. Allure me. Bring me gently home. In Him, whose love knows no boundaries, Amen.

Focus question: In what ways do I shut out God’s love from shining in my life?

I love 1 Peter, and I love 1.8, and I love what Kathryn H. said about it:

The scripture for today, January 8 (1/8), is 1st Peter 1:8 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him! And even though you do not see him now, you believe in him! And are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy!”

Ah, the memories Peter had of being with Jesus when they all were young. Now he was old and people were dying out who had seen Jesus in person.

After Jesus returned to heaven, it was the job of his Apostles to tell people about him and repeat his words. They spent the rest of their lives doing just that. What joy they found when people believed, even though they had not seen him. They not only believed, but they also loved him

Thank God, the Apostles wrote the New Testament so we would never have to guess what Jesus was like and never have to guess what his words were, even after the Apostles died. In fact, we have the advantage because we do not have to wait for an Apostle to come visit us and tell us. We can read about Jesus for ourselves over and over as many times as we like right in our home.

Yes, we have not seen Jesus. Yet, with his life and words before us, we believe! And we love him. What inexpressible and glorious joy!

Though we cannot love you as we ought, O Lord, let us love you as we are able, that guided by your light and kept by your power, we come at the last, into your glorious presence. Amen. —Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

Jesus, the first and the last,
you are alpha and omega,
beginning and end.
You are there at the beginning of the year,
you are with us at its end.
You are at the beginning of our lives,
you are with us at our end.
Hope-kindler,
life-bringer,
gift-giver,
work in us your gifts of grace,
bring us forgiveness,
and perfect us in love. Amen.
—Jonathan Pye, Bristol District Chair

From the methodist.org.uk site, that doesn’t provide specific links to their prayer of the day.

After getting home from CrossFit, drinking my veggie protein shake, and taking a shower, I walked down to the swim school and watched the grandkids splash. Joel and I chatted. Afterwards, I walked them to their apartment building. Stopped on the way back at Dona Lina and bought some bread and sweets, then popped in at my neighbor’s workout gym and visited with him. He and I are studying the Word together, next time will be tomorrow afternoon. Then back home for some iced (Earl Grey) tea and that fresh bread.