Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for September, 2014

A Matter of Grammar

The blog Grammarphobia recently clarified something I’d been wondering about:

Q: Which is proper, “on behalf of” or “in behalf of”?

A: Both expressions are correct, but they mean slightly different things.

“In behalf of” means “for the benefit of” or “in the interest of.”

“On behalf of” means either “in place of” or “as the agent of.”

So I might give a donation, “on behalf of” my gardening club, to be used “in behalf of” tree restoration in the park.

Even more significantly, the New Testament has a word that has the same range of meaning as these two phrases.  In some cases it can mean “for the benefit” of (in behalf of) such as this:

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?  (Romans 8:32 NLT)

Yet in other places it means “in place of,” (on behalf of) as in these examples:

Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.  (2 Corinthians 5:14 )

Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”  (John 11:49-50)

In the latter example, the Jewish leaders had been discussing what to do about Jesus.  They were afraid that the stir he was creating would prompt the Romans to clamp down and remove the semi-autonomy they presently enjoyed.  In saying this, Caiphas meant that they should kill Jesus instead of risking a general slaughter by Roman soldiers. He had no idea that his words ironically contained a ultimate spiritual truth:  that Jesus would die as the substitute for sinful people, taking the punishment we deserved so that we might be acceptable to God.  This is the BEST NEWS EVER. 

Here are a couple of wonderful songs on this beautiful theme:

“It’s About the Cross” 

“When I Think about the Cross”

Seeking God’s Rubber Stamp

I must admit that often when I ask someone a question, I don’t listen well to their response.  Am I really interested in the other person or preoccupied with my own plans and thoughts?  Or have we ever asked someone’s advice and then turned around and done the other thing? 

Jehoshaphat began his reign over Judah very well, but then he married into the family of the infamous King Ahab of Israel and got drawn into some unwise situations.  Ahab proposed that Jehoshaphat go to war with him against another nation.  When Jehoshaphat wanted to first get God’s guidance on the matter, Ahab provided him with 400 lying prophets who enthusiastically promoted Ahab’s plan.  Jehoshaphat saw through that and asked for a real prophet—one who would give God’s word. 

I have to smile at Ahab’s response:  “Yes, there is one, but I don’t like him because he never prophesies anything good about me; always bad.”  Well, duh! 

So Micaiah is called and eventually predicts how Ahab is going to be killed in the proposed battle.  Ahab locks Micaiah up ignoring his warning, and—what does Jehoshaphat do?  He wanted to know God’s decision, didn’t he?  He asked for it, didn’t he?  He heard it, didn’t he? 

But he ignored it and went ahead to do what he’d already decided to do beforehand!  He had a close call that day in the battle (Ahab was killed), but God was merciful.  (Read about it in 2 Chronicles 18.)

So when I ask God for His guidance, am I really listening and willing to follow?  Or do I just want His blessing on my own plan?

Waiting, p.s.

I just found this poster which would have gone great with my last post about waiting.  This throws a whole new light on what may often seem to be an irritating waste of time.


Waiting …

We are all waiters of one sort or another.  WAIT is a word we don’t much appreciate in our era of instant gratification, but there are different kinds of waiting. 

Waiting in line (traffic, ATM, in a waiting room ) 
   Focus:    accomplishing a goal
   Mood:     irritation
   Activity:  just pass the time reading, chatting, listening to music, etc.

Waiting for an anticipated event (Christmas, birth of baby, Christ’s return)
   Focus:    desired future event
   Mood:     excitement
   Activity:  preparation

On the other hand, there is also waiting in dread, as for the results of a biopsy.
   Focus:    anticipated bad news
   Mood:     dread, sometimes denial
   Activity:  sometimes paralysis

Waiting on someone (at a restaurant, being a “lady in waiting” to royalty, waiting     on God)
   Focus:    the one being served
   Mood:     devoted attention
   Activity:  anticipating & complying with the desires of the one being served

Waiting means…

…my time is not my own.

…not needing what I want when I want it. 

…trusting that God will work out what’s best in His time—for me and for the whole world.

…letting go of my own preferences and focusing on God and others.

But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength.
They will fly high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

My Treasure

A string of perfect pearls, added one at a time.  A chest full of dazzling gems, each one sought, saved for, collected, and enjoyed.  I love beautiful things, especially jewels.  One of my favorite places is the Smithsonian museum where dazzling treasures of this sort have been  put on display for ordinary people like me to enjoy.  My own jewels consist of my engagement and wedding ring and a tiny ruby in a necklace given by my grandparents for graduation.  Oh yes, and three necklaces of inexpensive—but real!—pearls of irregular shapes and great character. 

But, as I realized this morning, I am accumulating a treasure much more lasting and precious than jewels.  Lately I have resumed the practice of memorizing Bible passages.  Having given up on it years ago, assuming that I was too old for anything to stick anymore, I was recently challenged to join a group of others my age, and off we went!  Each verse I store in my mind and heart is another rare pearl strung together together into a priceless necklace to be taken out and enjoyed anytime, anywhere. And every passage learned is another unique piece of jewelry to prize, use, and enjoy.  As I display these through my life (not just around my neck!) I know that my character will become more beautiful, and I will more closely resemble my Heavenly Father who gave them to me.

And this treasure is available to anyone, not just the wealthy.  Well, I must qualify that.  Today I participated in the dedication of a newly completed translation of the New Testament into a minority language of the country where I live.  And there I was reminded that almost 2000 languages in the world are still without any portion of the Bible. Hearing this, I am challenged 1) to appreciate the treasure of God’s word in my own language all the more, and 2) to renew my efforts to help make it available to the 180,000,000 people who do not yet have access to it in the language of their heart. 

Your teachings are worth more to me
than thousands of pieces of gold and silver.  Psalm 119:72

All you ever wanted

People Want                                                  Jesus says, “I AM…”

Satisfaction of our physical & soul hunger     The Bread of Life

Freedom from sin’s grip, light for our way     The Gate for the sheep

Unending life with an ageless body               The Resurrection and the Life

Access to God, true knowledge                    The Way to God, the Truth & the Life

Vitality & productiveness                             The True Vine

Salvation, a full & satisfying life                    The Good Shepherd—at the cost of his own                                                                                                             life!

What more could we want?  He has shown Himself to be beautiful, sufficient, loving, wise, and powerful—and that’s just the beginning.  Why not follow Him?

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all

Seeking You as a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I’d be a fool
You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God
Worthy is Your name
Jesus, Lamb of God
Worthy is Your name

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
Rising again I bless Your name
You are my all in all

When I fall down You pick me up
When I am dry You fill my cup
You are my all in all

Here are two beautiful Youtube renditions of this song:

Songwriter:  Dennis Jernigan

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