Archive for the ‘Psalm 94: 18-19’ Category

Physical death, raised to life in the Spirit

November 14, 2015

1 Peter 3--18

The Verse of the Day for November 14, 2015 is found in 1 Peter 3:18 (NLT) provides a striking contrast between death and life:

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

The verse contrasts being “put to death in the flesh” with being “quickened or made alive.” Translated from the Greek word zōopoieō, the expression meansto cause to live, make alive, give life, restore to life, endued with new and greater powers of life, of seeds quickened into life, i.e. germinating, springing up, growing)

This verse also brings to mind a statement made by Jesus Christ in John 12:24;

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [just one grain, never more]. But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest

Throughout the Scriptures we find that life always follows death, for God is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him (Luke 20:38). I recall seeing a graphic illustration of having been put to death with respect to the flesh in stark contrast to having been quickened or made alive with regard to the Spirit:

About 10 years ago while living in Columbus, OH, there was special exhibition called Chapungu, a collection of sculpture from Harare, Zimbabwe on display at the Franklin Park Conservatory. One of the sculptured works of art that particularly arrested my attention was entitled “Dying Antelope Transformed into a Butterfly.” It was the inspiration for this poetic response to what I witnessed:

Although this is not the particular sculpture that I saw, it shows the transformation taking place as an antelope is changed into a butterfly.

Although this is not the particular sculpture that I saw, it shows the transformation taking place as an antelope is changed into a butterfly.

A Lesson from Chapungu*

Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;

The snare is broken, and we have escaped.

Psalm 124:7

With my eyes open to see what God has to say,

I stroll through varied green scenes while looking to see

Secret messages, sculpted letters sent to me

In rocks that cry out from quarries of Zimbabwe.

Hunted game escapes, just beyond the huntsman’s grasp,

An antelope transformed into a butterfly,

Snatched from the clasp of death, quickened to glorify

The God that spoils the powers of the deadly asp,

To release souls who trust Him from the fear of death.

You uphold me with your victorious right hand.

Not even death can limit all that you have planned,

For you sustain all life and safeguard every breath.

The Lord protects my life, preserving flesh and bone,

That I might proclaim His praise as a living stone.

The epigraph or opening scripture for the poem is found in Psalm 124, which is offered as a song by Esther Mui, “Our Help is in the Name of the LORD” (Christian Scripture Praise Worship w/ Lyrics)


By bread alone

July 12, 2015

Luke-4-4The Verse of the Day for July 12, 2015 comes from Matthew 4:4 (NLT):

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

The King James Version renders the verse in this way:

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The verse is also rendered in a similar way in Luke 4:4

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

The phrase “by bread alone” brings to mind an experience that occurred in 2011 when I participated in a clinical trial involving men with prostate cancer and two types of special bread: Soy and Almond. In the blog entry posted a year ago, I talked about this experience. Click here to read about the Verse of the Day and its application in my life at that time. Matthew 4:4 also relates to an English composition class that I was teaching at the same time, and I was discussing the importance of sentences as the building blocks of the essays that we write.

Here are some of the notes that I used:

A sentence is the basic unit of written communication. A complete sentence written in standard English must have three elements:

  • A subject
  • A verb
  • A complete thought

To edit your writing, you need a clear understanding of what a sentence is and what a sentence is not. You can find out if a group of words is a complete sentence by checking to see if it has a subject, a verb, and a complete thought.

I use this comparison: Building a sentence is like making a sandwich. The two essential ingredients are two slices of bread: a subject and a verb. These two items alone do not make a sandwich, however, unless it is what we called an “Air sammich.” Here is where Matthew 4:4 comes into play, as we recognize that “Man shall not live by bread alone . . . we must have at least peanut butter and jelly or smoked turkey or roast beef and Swiss cheese or grilled veggies or whatever your favorite sandwich ingredient might be. My experience with the clinical trial involving bread occurred as I also began teaching a composition class, all of which inspired this poem:

A New Bread, a New Class, a New Analogy

Daily: Eat the entire two slices. Both slices can be eaten    

at the same meal as a sandwich.

Nutrition-40 Soy Bread Study—OSU Medical Center

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written,

That man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word of God.   

Luke 4:4


Halfway between the study, I eat a new bread:

No longer soy-almond but pure soy bread instead.

As I am teaching a new class, I find a way

To help students understand what I’m trying to say

When I share that man shall not live by bread alone,

As Jesus said when asked to make bread from a stone.

To construct a good sentence, this I admonish:

You must build a sentence as you would a sandwich:

A subject and verb must express a complete thought.

This analogy helps students see what is taught:

One slice of bread is the subject, one slice the verb,

But “more” takes you from mediocre to superb.

Much more than two slices but what goes in between

Can be a work of art to convey what you mean.

One of the songs that I used to close the blog entry last year is also appropriate for today’s comments on Matthew 4:4, the Verse of the Day. The Bill Gaither Trio offer “Man Can’t Live by Bread Alone.”