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God’s Amazing Grace
Dying Grace
Genesis 47:28-29
Although there are many more topics we could consider in our study of God’s Amazing Grace, I want to bring the series to a conclusion today by thinking about “Dying Grace”. 
Not only does the grace of God save and sustain us, and not only does it liberate and heal us, and not only does it abound in greater power and capacity than our sin, and not only should we be quick to share it with others, we need to keep in mind that it is the same God who will give to us dying grace.
All of us should make preparations for our dying day.  And all of us should not only prepare every day of our life as if this day would be the last day of our life, but live our life as if it is the last day of our life. 
But we also need to know God gives us what we can’t produce or manufacture on our own. Jerry Vines, who served as pastor of First Baptist in Jacksonville, Florida for a number of years, in one of his sermons tells about being on an airplane and the plane got in a storm.
He said it was like somebody had tied a string to that plane. We were all up and down. I really got right with God.  I gave up my bubble gum. I gave up my comic books. It scared me to death. It looked to me like we were going down. In a little while we got through the storm and we weathered it all right.
Then I got ashamed of myself. I said, "Lord, I don't know why I acted like that. Why did I get so afraid? Lord, I have told our people that when the time of death comes, You will give dying grace. What happened?  Why didn’t I experience that?"
He said the Lord seemed to speak to me and say, "That's right, Jerry, in the hour of death I'll give you dying grace, but you weren't dying right now."
I do believe God is going to give us dying grace. The Bible says, "My grace is sufficient for thee" and in the hour when you need it, God's grace is going to be right there and God's grace is going to lead you.  To help us understand what I’m talking about, let’s listen to God’s Word from
Genesis 47:28-29
Notice the phrase, “the time drew near that Israel must die.”  The Bible declares that “it is appointed unto man once to die.”  That means as much as we might try to avoid it or ignore it, you and I are going to die.  And just as “Israel must die”, we all must die.  There is only one exception to that statement and that is for those Christians who happen to be alive when the Lord returns for His church.  That group won’t die.  But everyone else must die. 
In fact, in many ways the book of Genesis is a testimony to that fact.  It is early in the book of Genesis that we encounter the very first death to ever occur on earth when Abel was killed by his brother Cain.
Then a few pages later we find list after list of those who died as God recorded the genealogies of the earliest inhabitants of the earth. Over and over the phrase is repeated, “so-and-so begat so-and-so, and he died”.  “And he died, and he died, and he died”.   Like a broken record that phrase is sounded time and time again
By the time we reach the sixth chapter of Genesis, we find an entire generation sept away in death as God’s judgment comes upon humanity
Then history begins to focus on the life and family of a man named Abraham and it’s not long till we gather at the graveside of his wife, Sarah.  Then we attend the funeral of Abraham himself. Then their son, Isaac dies.  Then his brother, Ishmael dies.
Then the next generation encounters the sadness and sorrow of death as Jacob weeps at the tomb of his wife, Rachel.  And one by one, on and one, the processions continue until we come to this text which tells us that Jacob, also known as Israel, must die. 
Now lest you think we’re dealing with gloom and doom, this is not a somber message.  In fact, it is a very upbeat, positive kind of message.  The Bible declares that to God, the death of His saints is a precious experience. 
So this is not a somber, depressing subject by any means.  For the child of God death is not a negative subject.  Far too often we turn it into that, but it’s not that. 
I came across a survey someone did of young children’s views regarding death.  And I would suggest that some of us need more of their attitude. 
And keep in mind, these were not planted or suggested answers.  These were just four, five and six year old children speaking from their heart.  Here's what they say about death.
1. ''Everybody has to die some time even if you don't want to.''
2. ''When you die, God takes care of you like your mother did when you were alive, only God doesn't yell at you all the time.''
3. ''You have to be old before you can die because God seems to love old people best.''
4. ''God doesn't tell you when you're going to die because he wants it to be a big surprise.''
5. ''Only the good people go to heaven; the other people go to where it's hot all the time like Florida.'',
6. ''Everyone is scared to die except the people who are already dead.''
7. ''A good doctor can help you so that you won't die. A bad doctor sends you to heaven.''
8. ''When you die, you don't have to do homework in heaven unless your teacher is there, too.''
9. ''Grown-ups who smoke die before grown-ups who don't smoke. Grown-ups who smoke must be in a hurry to die.''
10. ''Everyone cries when somebody dies because they don't want to be left behind.''
So if it is appointed unto man once to die, and we see here in the text that just like Israel, we all must die, then what can we learn about death from this little statement? 
Let me share with you three things surrounding the death of Jacob that illustrate that God’s Amazing Grace is dying grace. 
The first illustration of dying grace is that Jacob had
1. A Forgiving Lord with Him
Genesis 48:1-3
Now, I want you to get this scene. It's time for Jacob to die. And remember when the Bible says Jacob or Israel, it's the same person, just using the terms interchangeably. And the time has come for him to die, and so he is on his sickbed and they go tell his son, Joseph that daddy is dying. 
Joseph gets his two children, Jacob's grandchildren, Ephraim and Manasseh, and they go in to see granddaddy.  When Jacob hears that Joseph is coming, he gathers his strength, sits up on the side of the bed and shares his testimony with his son and grandsons. 
He tells them about the time when he got saved.  That’s what’s on his heart.  As he prepares to die, he must have been remembering what a rascal he had been. He was a con artist. In fact, the name, Jacob, means “cheat”.  He was a crook, a con man and a deceiver. 
But “Jacob”, the cheat, by the grace of God became Israel, which means “God’s prince”.  There was a day when he met God at a place called Luz. And that's what he’s telling them about here in verse three. 
Now it’s important to know that the name “Luz” means “separation.”   And if there was ever a fellow who was separated from God and family, it was poor old Jacob. There he was, a lad away from home and discouraged.  He is on the run because he has sinned against his brother, Esau.  And in response, Esau says, “You just wait till daddy dies and I’m going to kill you.”
And if you follow his story, you find him living in exile out in the desert and he gets so tired, he pulls up a rock, makes a pillow out of it, and drifts off to sleep.  By the way, that’s the Bible’s way of reminding us that the way of sinners is hard. 
So there he is, living out in the desert under a sentence of death, hiding out in fear. He has hurt others and he has hurt himself. He is in a place of alienation. He is in a place of separation. And he is in a place of confrontation. 
As he is sleeping, he has a dream.  In this dream, he sees a ladder going up to heaven and he sees angels going up and down the ladder. And God uses that dream to reveal Himself to Jacob and miraculously, Jacob’s heart is turned toward God. 
That ladder is an Old Testament representation of Jesus Christ.  He is the Way to God.  In fact, He is the only way to God. So Jesus is the ladder.  And here's old Jacob out there in the wilderness. He sees the way to heaven. He meets the Lord and God showed him there was a way into the glory. And he was born again.
And there is where we discover the first step in dying with grace.  It is to have a forgiving God with you. Jacob came to know that his sins were forgiven. He knew that his sins were under the blood.
He had been a rascal but he had learned from God that salvation is not a reward for righteous people. It is a gift for guilty people. And he met the Lord there and God dealt with him in grace.
And dear friend, you can experience dying grace when you know that you know that you know that your sins have been forgiven. 
Jacob couldn't forget that day!  And when Joseph and Manasseh and Ephraim came to see Jacob, he says, “Boys, let me tell you about the time when the Lord met me there at Luz.''
Even though he was nearing death’s door and he is now one hundred forty seven years of age, the thing that was fresh on his was that he had met God and discovered that God was a forgiving God and his sins had been forgiven. 
Now come all the way awake and listen real close.  If you don’t hear anything else, get this: If you have never been saved, then you're not ready to die.  In fact, you're not even ready to live, unless you've been saved.  And you cannot have dying grace if you’ve never experienced saving grace.
So have you been saved?  Answer that question. Are you saved? Does God's spirit bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God? If so, you can experience dying grace because you have a forgiving Lord with you. 
Secondly, not only did he have a forgiving Lord with him, but he had
2.  A Fruitful Life Behind Him
Genesis 48:4
Notice that opening phrase: “I will make you fruitful.” That’s exactly what God did.  God took this old lying cheat and blessed him and made him fruitful. 
Now keep in mind, that, like Jacob, we were chosen by grace. Jesus said, “You've not chosen me, I have chosen you, and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain.”
And when Jacob came to the end of his life, he looked back and not only did he have a forgiving Lord with him, he had a fruitful life behind him.
Now, it needs to be said that you can be saved and not be fruitful. You can go to heaven empty-handed.  Jacob didn't have to meet the Lord empty-handed.  His life was fruitful.  So what difference does it make?  If we are save saved by grace and not by works, what difference does it make as long as I'm going to heaven?
It makes a lot of difference.  One of these days you’re going to stand before the One Who died for us and there we will be rewarded for our service.  The Bible explains that our works will be tested, put through the fire, to determine their worth.  Some will be burned up and some will be purified. 
And as Paul explained that to the Corinthian church he indicated that when the fire has done its work, some will have nothing left but their salvation.  Their work is described as wood and hay and stubble. 
Again, you may be tempted to say, “Well, I’m going to heaven so what difference does it make?”
You will go as a disobedient steward. The Bible says, “Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven.” Revelation 14:13 says, “ Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors”, and notice this next phrase, “and their works do follow them”
Now, learn this about good works. Good works don't bring you to heaven. Good works follow you to heaven, and somehow or another in the economy of God, our works matter.  They matter to us and they matter to others.
Follow the story of Jacob and you will discover that because of the relationship Joseph, Jacob’s son, had with the Pharaoh, this old weather-beaten shepherd was introduced to the most powerful man in the world. 
But there is a subtle fact that is often missed in the story.  It’s found in
Genesis 47:7
We would think of it the other way around, that Jacob was blessed by meeting Pharaoh, but God says it was just the opposite and Pharaoh was the one who was blessed!  That means Jacob was the greater man in the meeting. 
Now think about that: here was a man who was not only saved by grace, he bore fruit by grace. God made him fruitful. And God not only blessed him, he made him to be a blessing to others.  That is the very nature of Christianity. 
God saves us by His grace, blesses us with salvation, then sends us out to be fruitful in the world by blessing others.  And when Jacob got ready to died, he could not only look up to a forgiving Lord but he could look back to a fruitful life.
So what about your life? Is your life being fruitful? Are you a blessing to anybody?  Do you ever extend the grace of God?  When people listen to you talk is it blessing or cursing?  Is it positive and joyful or negative and depressing?  Some people light up a room every time they leave!  You know what I’m talking about? 
Have you ever experienced that?  You can be having a great time visiting with your friends, and then suddenly the air and life and happiness is just sucked from the room when certain people enter.
Is that really how you want to live your life? Always negative and mad and bitter?  And then, one day you’re going to get ready to die and you’re going to have to look back, even though you claimed to be a Christian and been the recipient of all the love and joy and peace that God could afford, and you lived for junk and were never a blessing.  
And beyond that, you’ll have to face God for misrepresenting him and being disobedient to Him while you were alive and watch all the things you thought were important go up in smoke as you stand there naked and ashamed before the One who was stripped naked and shamed for you.   
Some of you may be familiar with Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.  He entered the insurance business at age 22.
At age 23, he was awarded his agency's Most Valuable Associate Award. Ten years later, he received his company's highest management award for recruiting, manpower and development, and business management.
In 1965, he founded Life Management Services to share his experience through seminars and consulting services. He also founded Executive Books, now Tremendous Life Books, to share his love of books with as many people as possible.
Thousands of audiences around the world experienced nonstop laughter as Mr. "T" shared his ideas about life's most challenging situations in business and at home. Two of his speeches, "The Price of Leadership" and "Where Does Leadership Begin?" have been enjoyed by millions. He was the author and editor of nine books, including Life is Tremendous with more than 2,000,000 copies in print in twelve languages.
Those who attended his seminars used phrases like,, “Charlie lit warm fires in cold rooms" and "Charlie spoke 'life' into me".  He was one of those great and humble people who was a wonderful man of God. 
He died back in 2008. 
He once told the story of a tremendous flood that occurred near his home and it flooded his basement study where he had all of his books and letters and mementos such as letters from presidents and citations and all of those little rewards and everything. 
And he said after the flood, he went down to the basement and it was all ruined. And all of those things he worked so hard for were embedded in two or three feet of mud.
He said ''Oh my gosh! Look at this! All my life's work, it's gone!'' And he carried it to the Lord and told the Lord how all his life’s work had been destroyed and the Lord said to him, “Don't worry about it, Charlie.  I was going to burn it up all up anyway.”
Listen: what you have right now and what you will have when it comes time to die are only important if they have eternal value.  That's what really counts.  And if you want dying grace, make sure you have a fruitful life behind you.
Let me show you one final thing that shows Jacob had dying grace. Not only did he have a forgiving Lord with him and not only did he have a fruitful life behind him, but he also had,
3. A Future Light Before Him
Genesis 49
Now obviously we have skipped some material, but we are now gathered around the bedside of Jacob.  And as Jacob speaks, we discover that God has given him a glimpse into the future.  And in these verses, he makes some amazing prophecies.  And all of them are interesting studies, but I want to zero in on the one found in
verse 10.
So what’s he talking about?  Notice the reference to Shiloh. One of the names for Messiah is Shiloh. Shiloh comes from the same word as the word Shalom which means peace.  To this day, when Jews greet one another, they say, Shalom, and it means peace.
And what’s happening here is that God gave to Jacob a revelation regarding the coming of Jesus who is our peace, the prince of peace.
And there upon his deathbed, Jacob looked down through the tunnel of time and through the power of prophesy and the eyes of faith, he saw the coming prince of peace.
And Jacob is telling his children and telling us that God had revealed to him that the promised Jewish Messiah will come through his family.  Even more specifically, he says the Messiah will come through the tribe of Judah. 
And I just find it very compelling that Jacob, the Old Testament patriarch, as he nears the time of his home going, is lying there on his deathbed thinking about Jesus and the sweet peace that He brings!
Not only does he see his peace, he sees Shiloh's power because he spoke of the scepter. “'The sceptre shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes!”  That is a reminder of the rule and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. 
And not only did he see his peace and power, he saw his people.
“To Him,” Jacob said, “shall be the obedience of the people”.  The old KJV says it his way:  “Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be”. 
People are going to be obedient to Him and those who are obedient will be gathered to Him. Do you know what I think he saw? I think he saw the rapture of the church.  I really do.
I believe he saw that time when the trumpets shall sound and the dead in Christ shall rise and we which remain pm earth will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. And we're gathered to Shiloh.
And here's ol' Jake on his deathbed, with a forgiving Lord with him, a fruitful life behind him, and future light before him telling those around Him about the coming of Jesus! 
That's a good way to die, knowing that when our bodies go to this grave that Shiloh will come, and the people will be gathered to him. We are going to be one in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And when you know that you can curl up in the casket and lie down and take a nap because you are surrounding by the grace of God. His grace is behind you, around you and before you and with old Job you can declare, “I know in my flesh I'll see God.”
Dying grace is just that simple. And the same grace with which you began your journey and the same grace that accompanied you on your journey will carry you safely into the presence of the One who gifted you with His grace to begin with. Remember, we are standing in grace and that is true, not just for life, but also for death and for all eternity!
I heard a story about a king who had a court jester who entertained him. He could humor and amuse the king like no other.  The king said to the court jester, "I want to give you my scepter. You are the best fool I've ever seen. You keep this scepter until you find a bigger fool than yourself."
For a number of years the court jester kept the king's scepter and then the king became terminally ill. He called for his court jester to come in. Speaking of his death, he said, "Oh, court jester, I'm getting ready to take a journey from which I will never return."
The court jester said to him, "O king, what preparation have you made for this journey?" The king said, "Alas, I have made none."
With that, the court jester picked up that scepter and handed it back to the king and said, "Here, O king, this belongs to you for I jested about things that do not matter. You have made light about that which is eternal.  You are a bigger fool than I."
The time drew near that Israel must die.  And the time draws near for you also.  But today, the grace of God surrounds you and invites you home. 
Let’s pray.
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