You might have noticed that there is a lot of pranking going on today.  A prank is a practical joke performed on another.  For example, child #1 starts to sit in a seat. Child #2 pulls the chair away, causing child #1 to fall to the floor.  Child #2 yells, “it’s a prank.”  Child #2 might also say I was just “fooling” him.  Kids, adults, husbands, and wives, everybody is pulling pranks or fooling others. Such tricks are done to make each other laugh or look and act foolishly.  But do you know that some people are fooling themselves?  This last type of prank is deadly because some people fool themselves into thinking that they are saved when they are not.  And while the childish everyday antics that people pull on each other are not too serious, fooling oneself into believing a lie about one’s salvation can be deadly because it can cause you to wind up in Hell.  The Bible says, in Romans 6:23,

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  

This scripture is essential because it should cause a person to reject or quit the sin business and accept the life-giving gift of Jesus Christ.  However, some people have “fooled” themselves into believing that what the Bible says does not apply to them.  They think that they can keep participating in sinful activities and still make it into the Kingdom of Heaven.  They believe that sure, they will die, but somehow, God will welcome them into Heaven when they get to the other side.  They think He’ll say, as it is written in Matthew 25:21, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Wouldn’t that be a terrible time to hear, “Oh, Johnny, or oh, Susie, are you in line with those who will enter Heaven?  Your name is not in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  It’s a prank!  Go on down to Hell where you belong.”

 Some of you’ve fooled yourself into believing that if you don’t think about death, Hell, and the grave, they will all go away.  So, you refuse to listen to church on TV or pay attention when people on the streets are preaching to you.  You run from that kind of teaching and preaching because you don’t want to hear it.  You instead tell yourself that “God has kept me so far, so He’ll keep doing it forever.”  What you don’t realize is that you are just living by His Grace and mercy.  The Bible says that he is long-suffering because He doesn’t want anyone to perish.

2 Peter 3:9 says The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

 But the day will come when His Mercy will run out for the unrepentant, and you will lose the fight.

Genesis 6:3. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man,

Let’s talk about the pandemic that the world is in right now.  Some of you say that this pandemic is just a prank, and it’s not real.  Do you think the government is just pranking us? You don’t believe them when they put numbers out like 679,000 people have died in the U.S. from Covid?  So, what do you do?  You walk around without a mask, you refuse to get vaccinated, and you certainly don’t believe that you can get sick from it.  That is until you get sick from it.  You’re walking around fooling yourself.

I get it that you’ve escaped car wrecks, hurricanes, and bullets flying by your head.  Yes, you have seen your loved ones suffer and die, but you think, “that was them, but it will never happen to me.”  Since God has allowed you to live while still in your sins, you think you’re somehow unique.  You feel that you can keep going like you’re going.  One day you imagine that you’re going to open your eyes and get right with God, maybe just before you die.  You just don’t want to do it today.  You’ve fooled yourself into believing that you have plenty of time, but you just might not.  Fooling yourself, you say, “I can’t see myself in Hell for eternity because God is good and loving.”  Yes, God is a good and loving God.  He loved you so much that He allowed His only Son to die for you.  And if you wind up in Hell, it’s on you, not Him.

And then, there comes the fateful bullet from that woman’s husband that you’ve been sleeping with or the car wreck that takes you out or the banana peel that you slip on and bust your head open, and suddenly you are in Hell.  You’re rolling and crying; “Why did I fool myself that I didn’t need Jesus?  Why didn’t I listen when those preachers told me how to be saved?  Why didn’t I prepare for this day?”  Too late.

Let me tell you about Anna, who fooled herself until disaster came to her house.  Anna was the type of woman who was a pretty good person, but she was foolish.  Her husband was very sickly.  She knew that she needed to prepare a will so that his and her wishes would be written down when either of them passed away.  She believed that she needed to prepare for death, so she started to take steps towards preparation.  She went online and ordered one of those wills that you can fill out and mail to a lawyer.  She began to fill the will out, but she never finished it.  And, of course, she indeed never sent it to a lawyer for recording.  She looked at that will every day as it lay on her coffee table and often said, “I have got to finish that will and send it in, so it’s ready in case of either of our death.”  But she never did.  She woke up one morning, and her husband was gone.  It was too late then to do anything about the will.  Her husband had left, and she was foolish.

Just as Anna was a foolish woman, many people are the same way about their souls.  They neglect to take care of important business.  They have often heard about the need to repent of their sins.  They even believe the Bible that tells us in John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

They love to hear gospel music because it stirs their souls.  They even like to listen to preaching because it reminds them of when Memaw used to take them to church as children.  But they refuse to act on the Word of God.  There are no brownie points to be gained with God when you stand before Him by telling Him that you went to church.  He will ask you why didn’t you get saved?  Why is your name not recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life?  Quit fooling yourself.  Get right, get right with God.

OK, so now you are ready to stop fooling yourself.  You’re ready to be saved.  What do you do?  You lift your hands to God, knowing that you are a sinner needing to be saved.  You realize that Jesus Christ is the only answer for your sin-sick soul.  You accept Him as Lord and savior.  Repeat these words or similar words, and God will save You.

Father, forgive me of all my sins.  Save my soul and fill me with the power to live according to your mandates.  If you save me, I will live for you for the rest of my life.  Fill me with the Holy Ghost.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9).

The Bible promises that God will give the Holy Ghost to them that ask.  Luke 11:13 says:

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Let us pray:  Father, I ask that You forgive those asking for salvation today and help them forgive themselves.  Forgive them for all of the times that they rejected your opportunities for redemption.  Now that they are ready to stop fooling themselves, please hear their heartfelt cry.  Save their souls and fill them with Your precious Holy Ghost and Power.  In the name of Jesus, the Christ, I pray.  Amen!

 

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