SAILING SHIPS were a favorite of our oldest son Jim. Several years ago, I painted this sailing ship for him. At the time I actually did two paintings of the same subject. One with white sails and this one.
I’m using it for our Thought this week—Grace—because of the story behind the famous sea captain, John Newton, I’ll mention later. He sailed a hundred years before this Clipper Ship design became popular.
WHEN DID YOU last use ‘Grace’ in a sentence? Did you mean: A girl’s name …prayer before a meal… description of a dance movement… a religious term…or something else? My Thesaurus lists more than 30 words that may be substituted: some nouns some verbs. Let’s narrow today’s search to ‘Divine Grace’. (1.) ‘Divine Grace’ Defined (2.) ‘Divine Grace’ Illustrated? (3.) ‘Divine Grace’ Experienced.
‘Divine Grace’ Defined
WHETHER I CURRENTLY understand the meaning of ‘Divine Grace’ or not, it’s from God and, on the surface, sounds like a good thing. I’m at least interested in knowing more. Right?
Definition #1: Some say, “Divine Grace” is ‘unmerited favor’. So, what does that mean? ‘Favor’ suggests ‘an act of kindness’. That sounds promising. But ‘unmerited’ could mean something ‘unearned’ or even ‘undeserved’. So here “Divine Grace” is an act of God’s kindness toward me without me having done anything to earn it plus, I may be undeserving. While I see this in Scripture, to me, it seems we limit ‘Divine Grace’ application to one becoming a follower of Jesus —the process called ‘spiritual birth’ whenever that takes place. What about the role of ‘Divine Grace’ in spiritual growth of the new follower?
Definition #2. The most complete definition I’ve found is: ‘God acting in our life to accomplish what we cannot do on our own’. It applies at ‘spiritual birth’ and continues throughout our life toward Christlikeness. While well-intentioned human effort is indispensable, we cannot do this in our own strength alone. Christlikeness of the inner being is not a merely human attainment nor is spiritual development in Christ a passive process. It is, finally, a gift of ‘Divine Grace’ where God is acting in our life to accomplish what we cannot do on our own. We seek to obey God’s instruction (emitting fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5). God’s ‘Divine Grace’ provides his intended results via our faithfulness, even though we may not follow perfectly.
‘Divine Grace’ Illustrated
The Greek word translated ‘grace’ appears 114 timers in the New Testament.
JESUS; And the child (Jesus) grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. Luke 2:40
PAUL: But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10
FOLLOWERS: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
‘Divine Grace’ Experienced
HOW? START BY asking God to open our physical and spiritual eyes so that we may see what God is doing in our sphere of influence. Spend time reading and meditating on God’s teachings like Psalm 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 2:8,9. Ask God to speak to us about how we may serve with him by means of his ‘Divine Grace’ in our sphere of influence. Trust what God says and serve.
READ THE STORY behind the life of John Newton. Think through his Lyrics of
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far
And Grace will lead us home
And Grace will lead us home
Go, and serve others by His ‘Divine Grace’!
 John Newton was born in London in 1725, the son of a Puritan mother and a stern ship commander father who took him to sea when he was 11. By 1745, Newton was enlisted in the slave trade, running captured slaves from Africa to, ironically, Charleston, S.C. After he rode out a storm at sea in 1748, he found his faith. He was a slave himself for a period of time. He went on to fight against slavery.