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We are going to talk about love tonight. It’s not a subject I preach on very frequently. One reason is I’m always aware of my own deficiencies when I come to that subject. I think I’m going to quote Shakespeare anyhow. I hope you realize I’m still a good fundamentalist, Bible believing preacher! Way way back before most of you were even in existence there were two writers I was particularly absorbed with. One was Shakespeare and the other was Plato. And in the first half of the l930s I memorized quite a number of Shakespeare’s sonnets. I discovered in Moorhead in July of this year that I could still remember them exactly. So I wrote one out and read it and I discovered this evening that I could remember another one so I wrote that out also. Shakespeare was very occupied with two things: one was love and the other was immortality. Like most sensitive writers, poets and philosophers, he had this continuing problem that he could see so much that was beautiful and lovable in the world but he knew that it was all doomed to decay and to pass away. And being at that time at least, I would say, not a Christian, he wrestled in his mind and in his soul for some kind of answer, comfort or assurance. And much of his wrestling comes out in his sonnets. In the sonnets there was someone who was usually called the dark lady who was apparently the object of his passionate affection and it’s somewhat improbable that his affection was fully requited. And in one of his sonnets he tried to convince this lady that though she might grow old, his poetry would make her immortal. Well, I have to say that’s a pretty unsatisfactory kind of immortality. But it shows how deeply he was preoccupied with this fact that everything around us, though it’s so beautiful and probably nobody appreciated its beauty more than Shakespeare or expressed it more clearly, it’s all decaying.
There’s another sonnet, I don’t remember all of it, but the first four lines go like this: “When I consider everything that grows, holds in perfection but a little moment. And this huge stage presenteth naught but shows whereon the stars in secret influence comment.” So he saw everything was growing, coming to perfection and immediately starting to wither. And he sensed that somewhere in the background there was some unseen influence that was causing this and typically of people’s thinking even today, he attributed it to the stars.
Well, here’s another of his sonnets complete addressed to this ravishing lady and he’s trying to assure her that though she may grow old, she’ll live forever in his sonnet. You can just judge it for yourself whether it would satisfy you. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds shake the darling buds of May, and summer’s leaves have all too short a day. Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, and often its gold complexion dimmed. And every fair from fair sometimes decline by chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed. But thy eternal summer shall not fade, nor lose possession of that fair thou owest. Nor shall death brag thou wonderest in his shade when in eternal lines to times thou groweth. So long as men can read or eyes can see, so long lives this and this is life to thee.” Well, that’s the best he could offer her, the immortality of his poetry and sure enough, it has lived nearly four hundred years. But the lady died.
And this one speaks about what love ought to be. It’s one of his most famous sonnets. And again, he’s obviously reaching out for something. He can see it ought to be there and he doesn’t know where to find it. He really sets a high standard for love. It goes like this: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit ?impediment?. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove. Ah no. It is an ever fixed mark which looks on tempests and is never shaken. It is the star to every wondering bard whose works unknown although his height be taken. Love’s not time’s fool. Though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickles compass come. Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks. But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ nor no man ever loved.”
So he had a very high expectation of love. And I would say he was probably disappointed. And having gone that way myself, I think I understand his disappointment. For twenty-five years I looked in poetry, philosophy, the world, its pleasures, its thrills, its excitements, its intellectual challenges for something enduring, permanent and satisfying. And the more I looked, the less satisfied I was. And I had no idea what I was looking for. But when the Lord revealed himself to me and baptized me in the Holy Spirit, I knew instantly that was what I had been looking for all that time. And do you know what I wondered? I don’t want to be critical, but it’s true. I wondered why I had been to church for twenty years and no one had ever told me about that.
So we’re going to talk now about God’s version of love. Not Shakespeare’s nor Plato’s, but God’s. I think it was in the spring past of this year here, or maybe sometime last year. I preached a message on the development of divine love and I want to start from those scriptures and then move rapidly on to others. In Romans 5:5 we read this tremendous statement:
Hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.(KJV)
Love maketh not ashamed, or love or hope is never disappointed when it’s fixed in the love of God. Because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts. I understand that to be the totality of God’s love. God withheld nothing. He just turned the bucket upside down and poured the whole thing in when he baptized us in the Holy Spirit. And many of us have had tremendous supernatural experiences of love.
I remember when I was a soldier in the British Army, what you would call a hospital attendant, I was overseas for four and a half years in North Africa mainly and then in Palestine. And one year I spent in the Sudan which is a dry, desert, rather bleak land. And there’s nothing very attractive about the Sudan nor about the people of the Sudan in the natural. But I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and God had shown me that he had a destiny for me. And I remember that God began to give me a supernatural love for those people. And the army placed me for a short while in a place called Atbara which is a railway junction in the Northern Sudan. I was in charge of a small reception station for military patients. I think it had three beds. I was in sole charge. There was a civilian doctor in the city with whom I was in liaison but I was my own boss for about the first time in my military career. Furthermore, I had a bed to sleep in which was very unfamiliar. And more than that, amongst the equipment that was issued in this reception station were long, white nightgowns made of flannel. And I had spent at that time about three years sleeping in my underwear and I was tired of it. So I availed myself of the facilities, put on a long white nightgown and slept in a bed. And I remember that particular night the Spirit of God came upon me in intercessory prayer for the people of the Sudan. And it had nothing to do with my natural feelings towards them at all. And I could not stay in bed. I was driven by this inner power. And I found myself praying far above the level of anything I could do by my own reason or emotion. And somewhere in the middle of the night—I tell this with some hesitation but I was aware that my white nightgown was actually shining. Somehow I was in direct union with the Lord. After that the army sent me on to another place, a miserable place in the Red Sea hills, where everybody else was discontented and I spent eight of the happiest months of my life because I loved the people. And in that situation I had the privilege of winning to the Lord the first member of a certain tribe called the ?Hidundua? that had ever professed faith in Christ. And when I left it broke my heart to leave that place and leave that man behind. So I have experienced in some small measure the supernatural love of God.
And when I met my wife about a year later in Palestine and saw the girls she was bringing up, the Lord again filled my heart with this wonderful love, supernatural love. And at that time I really had no thought of marriage. But, all that didn’t make me the kind of person I ought to be. I was still often selfish, irritable, self-centered and insensitive. What I’m trying to explain to you is that a supernatural experience of the love of God is wonderful but it doesn’t deal with our character. God has got to go from the supernatural outpouring of divine love to the formation of a character that adequately expresses the love of God. And that’s a process and it’s a long process and it takes God’s patience to take us through it.
Let me show you in 1John 2:4–5:
He that saith I know him [that’s God] and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in him.(KJV)
Now we’re talking not about the Spirit of God but about the word of God. We’re talking about not a supernatural experience, but the slow steady formation of character. And this comes through keeping the word of God. Whoso keeps God’s words, in him the love of God is gradually brought to perfection or maturity. That’s a two-edged scripture. First of all, the proof of our love for God is that we keep his word. It is in vain to claim that we love God when we do not keep his word. But secondly, as we keep his word, God sees to it that his love is worked out in our lives and in our character.
And in 2Peter 1:5–7 the apostle Peter gives us seven successive phases in the upbuilding of our character. Again, this is character. And he says in verse 5:
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue...
Notice the starting point, as I said in my last talk on faith, the starting point with everything God does is faith. There’s no other place to begin but faith. But when God has given us faith, then there’s got to be a process of development of building. And we are to add to our faith virtue.
...to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.(KJV)
Let’s look at those very briefly just for a moment or two and see the seven successive steps up of character building. We add to faith virtue. I like the translation excellence. Excellence is the mark of a Christian. Never be sloppy of anything you do. If you were a janitor before you were saved, be a better janitor after you are saved. If you were a teacher before, be a better teacher afterwards. If you were a nurse, be a better nurse. We add to our faith excellence.
When I was training teachers in East Africa for five years, my primary purpose was to win them to Christ. And when they made a profession of Christ and were baptized in the Holy Spirit, their attitude was well, now you’re going to expect less of me because I’m a Christian. And I used to say to them, on the contrary, I’m going to expect much more of you. If you could be a teacher without Christ and the baptism, you ought to be twice as good a teacher when you have Christ and the baptism. I’m not going to expect less, I’m going to expect more. And I will just state this and I trust for the glory of God, the third year that I was in charge of that college we graduated 57 students, men and women. And by a series of miracles which I cannot go into, but they were miracles, every student passed in every subject. And the representative of the education department of the government of Kenya responsible for teacher training colleges came and congratulated me personally and said in all our records we’ve never had results like this. Because I taught excellence. See, what could have been a better testimony to the baptism in the Holy Spirit which we were notorious for, than the fact that all our students passed in every subject. Christianity is no excuse for being sloppy. In fact, the sloppy Christian is denying his faith.
All right. Add to your faith excellence; to excellence knowledge. I don’t believe that means intellectual knowledge primarily but the knowledge of God’s will. The knowledge of his word. To knowledge; temperance. Most modern translations say self-control. There is a point beyond which you cannot go in character development if you don’t learn to control yourself. Your emotions, your words, your appetite and many other things.
To temperance or self control we’re to add perseverance. Stick it out. Again, there’s a point beyond which you will never arrive if you don’t learn to persevere because every time you’re getting there you’ll give up before you get there.
To perseverance; godliness. To godliness; brotherly kindness. That’s love of your fellow believers. But that isn’t the end. To brotherly kindness; charity. Divine love. That’s the climax. Now you start with it when you’re baptized in the Holy Spirit but you end with it when it comes to character development. The difference between brotherly love and divine love is in brotherly love we love our Christian brothers who love us. Divine love, we love those who hate us, persecute us and are altogether unloving.
All right. Now in the process of developing divine love we meet various obstacles. And I want to show you tonight that the obstacles are put there by God, not by the devil. And it’s only as we learn to meet and overcome these obstacles that we are made perfect in love.
I want to talk to you tonight for awhile on two common obstacles that love encounters. And I imagine the great majority of the people here either have encountered these obstacles or will encounter them. The two obstacles that I want to speak about are rejection and betrayal. Basically we react against both of those. What I want to show you is that each of them is planned by God. And our love is not perfect until we know how to deal with both rejection and betrayal. And in both these areas we have a divine pattern which is the Lord Jesus Christ. 1Peter 2:21 and following:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps...(KJV)
Christ is the pattern whom we are to follow particularly in respect of suffering unjustly.
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.(KJV)
There’s the pattern of how to meet these things that attack love. Let’s look first of all at how Jesus met rejection. For three and a half years he gave his life totally to doing good, to forgiving sin, to healing sickness, delivering the demon oppressed. He did nothing but good. At the end of that period his people to whom he belonged, the Jewish people, were given the choice by their Roman ruler of which they would prefer to have: Jesus of Nazareth or a criminal named Barabbas who was guilty of political insurrection, robbery and murder. And by one of the most amazing and tragic decisions in all human history, the entire nation incited by their religious leaders rejected Jesus and chose Barabbas.
Listen, I want to tell you something for a moment and I’ve got a reason for saying it. Bear with me because I’ve always been particular—let me say before the Lord touched my heart I didn’t like Jewish people. After the Lord touched my heart he changed that attitude in me. And I want to tell you that if I preached to 700 people and there’s one Jew, I’ll preach to that Jew. To me, in a certain sense, they’re more important than the 700 put together. And I just want to point out a lesson from the history of the Jewish people. When Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate and arraigned for trial, in the course of the dialogue between the Jewish leaders and the governor Pontius Pilate, the leaders of Israel said two things. They said, first of all, we don’t want this man Jesus. Give us Barabbas, the thief, the murderer and the political agitator. And a little later Pilate said to them in the 19th chapter of John, What shall I do with your king? [referring to Jesus] And they said the most astonishing thing that could ever fall from the lips of Jewish religious leaders, they said we have no king but Caesar. The most amazing statement because if ever there was one thing they hated, it was being under the rule of Caesar. Blind envy and malice drove them to say it.
Now I want to say that for 19 centuries the destiny of the Jewish people has been settled by those two statements. Not this man but Barabbas. And we have no king but Caesar. They chose a human ruler and they chose to be under a man of violent bloodshed and political agitation. And I suppose if we look at the events from 1934 through 1945; the rise and the fall of Hitler and of Nazism, we’d have to say that that was perfectly worked out. It’s a strange thing. I meet people who hardly know who Adolf Hitler was. It’s almost incredible to me having lived through that for anybody not to know who Hitler was. But, if you lived through it, believe me, you’ll never forget it. Behind Hitler was a philosophy. The philosopher’s name was ?Oswald Spengler? and he wrote a book called TheDecline of the West. And in that book, the essence of his philosophy was we need a new Caesar. And Hitler rose to power on that philosophy; he was the new Caesar. When he came to power as we know, he opened the prisons, released the Barabbases, filled the concentration camps with the Jewish people and put the Barabbases over them. Now it’s a very hard thing to say, but it’s true, that was settled by the decision of the religious leaders in the time of Jesus. Friend, when God gives you a choice and you choose, you get what you chose. They said not this man Jesus, the man of peace, but Barabbas, the man of violence. We have no king but Caesar, the emperor. And what they chose, they’ve had for 19 centuries. Now I don’t say that with any wrong attitude, but to me it is a continual, ever present solemn warning that when God says choose and I choose, I get what I choose. And I’d better be careful what I choose. So they said away with Jesus, crucify him, we don’t want him. We’ll have Barabbas, the thief and the robber.
How did Jesus respond? Let’s look in Luke 23:34. Just the one single verse.
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.(KJV)
He prayed to the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him. I want you to notice he was not concerned about what was happening to him, he was concerned about what would happen to them. I want to endorse what Brother Hammond said this morning. The surest mark of being under Satanic oppression is to be self centered. I have never met a person under Satanic oppression who was not shut up in themselves. The marvelous example of Jesus is though he was in agony and rejection he was not concerned about himself, he was concerned about those who had rejected him. What a pattern that is!
And now let’s look at how Jesus handled betrayal which I suppose is even harder to handle than rejection. I want you to turn to John’s gospel for a moment, John 6:70–71.
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, [the twelve disciples] and one of you is a devil? [the Greek word diabolos, not a demon but a devil, Satan] He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon; for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.(KJV)
Jesus knew when he chose Judas that Judas would be the one to betray him. Isn’t that an amazing fact? Can you explain that? I have my explanation, Ern Baxter has his. They’re not inconsistent. I’ll mention Ern’s and it’s very interesting. He says that in the eternal counsel of God there had to be a witness for the enemy who saw Jesus for three and a half years at close quarters every day, not as friend but as betrayer. And at the end of that his testimony was I have betrayed innocent blood. Even his enemy living with him for three and a half years could not put his finger on one thing he’d ever said or done that was wrong. That’s the testimony of the opposition.
But the reason I see is because Jesus is our pattern and I don’t believe we will ever suffer anything that he has not already suffered. And I believe Jesus chose a betrayer to show us how to face betrayal. Let’s look at how he faced it. Turn back to Matthew 26:47–50. This is in the garden of Gethsemane. There are three or four different accounts of this scene, it’s worthwhile to read them all but I don’t have time.
While he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him [that’s Judas] gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? (KJV)
He did not withdraw his friendship till the last moment. He still gave him the opportunity. The Greek word means companion. It’s in line with the statement in Psalm 14, my own familiar friend which did eateth up my bread have lifteth up his heel against me. Jesus still accepted Judas as his intimate personal friend knowing full well why he was kissing him. In one of the other versions he says, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?
Now with those two patterns before us I want to just summarize to you certain things we learn from Jesus. There are two things he did not do. When he was rejected he did not withdraw love and when he was betrayed he did not lose faith. And I’ll read something here I wrote because I don’t know that I can improve on it. And it’s somehow difficult to say. Divine love does not draw back nor turn away. Divine love totally exposes itself at the cost of embarrassment, shame or betrayal. You know for me personally the hardest thing to face is embarrassment. I don’t suppose there’s anybody else here like that! In 1970 out in the woods there I went out to see the Lord. I felt I wasn’t ready to speak to God’s people, I was teaching at the camp that year and I was on my face on the ground before the Lord and I said, Lord, if there’s anything in me that would hinder me from being a blessing to your people, show me. Never tell the Lord that if you don’t want an answer. And he said quickly, instantly, in my spirit, embarrassment. I said embarrassment! No, really Lord, you’ve made a mistake. You know, I don’t get embarrassed! I can face almost anything. And as I was arguing with the Lord my mind was going back to when I was a child five years old and I remember my mother going into a store to exchange some goods that she wasn’t satisfied with. And I said to her, well if you want to go in and make a fuss, do it. But I’m going to stay outside. And the Lord showed me in the brief span of time how all through my life I’ve always avoided embarrassing situations in public. And he showed me that I had become so skillful in anticipating and avoiding them that I didn’t even know I was avoiding them. So I said all right Lord, embarrass me, you’re right, out it goes. And praise God, out it went. I don’t know whether you see the difference in me but I know that I say and do a lot of things that I would, have never done till I was set free from embarrassment. See, take it at its very simplest, love caused Jesus to expose himself totally, physically on the cross. That cost something. Love doesn’t hide. Love doesn’t withdraw. Love doesn’t turn away. Love doesn’t cover up. I’ll read again what I read here. The wounds in the flesh only expose love and open a way for it to flow forth. When you’re about to be wounded by somebody you love, what do you do? Turn away? Defend yourself? Resist? Or expose it? Love exposes itself.
Now, having laid that basis, I just want to deal with two specific relationships. And like Brother Hammond I’ve come to see these things approaching them through the ministry of deliverance. Because in deliverance when I started about l964, I was like a man attacking a tree and what I was doing was lopping off the top twigs. Things like nicotine and alcohol. Well I soon discovered that addictions are twigs that grow on branches which are frustrations. If you want to deal with any kind of addiction you’ve got to find out the basic frustration and deal with that. When you cut the lower branch off you hardly have to bother with the twigs. Well, as I went on I went down and down and down getting nearer and nearer the trunk and finally from the trunk to the roots. Which is where God deals because Matthew 3:10 says now also the axe is laid to the root of the tree. And every tree which bringeth forth not good fruit is to be hewn down form where? From the root. And when I came to the root I discovered what I think Brother Hammond would probably endorse. I believe the root of all roots is rejection. It’s surprising. I never expected it. And I’ve come to this conclusion. I’m neither a sociologist nor a psychologist, I’m just a preacher. But I’ve come to this conclusion that God designed human nature so that every baby ever born into the world would need the love of parents and would never be satisfied, fulfilled, nor secure without the love of parents and particularly the love of a father. And I personally believe that the only security that a child can really enjoy is the strength of a father’s arms. And any person growing up who has been deprived of that is a pretty clear candidate for rejection. And because almost an entire generation of American fathers have failed their children, we have almost an entire generation of young people whose deepest basic problem is rejection.
I was at this campground I think two or three years ago in the middle of the afternoon and I was going rapidly and there was a lady going the opposite direction. And we literally ran into one another. So she said, Mr. Prince, I prayed that if God wanted us to meet, we’d meet. Well I said, we have met! What can I do for you, I’ve got just two minutes. So she began to tell me her problems and her life story. After about one minute I said, hold it, I think I understand your problem. I don’t have time to explain, but I’m just going to ask you to say these words after me. And I cannot give them verbatim but basically I said something like this: “God, I thank you that you love me. I thank you that you’re my Father, I’m your child. I’m not rejected, I’m not unwanted. I’m accepted in Christ. I’m a member of God’s family. Heaven is my home, God is my Father. You love me, I belong to you.” And then I said good-bye. I didn’t say any more. I probably didn’t even say as much as that. But I made her say it after me. About a month or so later I got a letter from that lady, she described the incident, reminded me what had happened and she said I just want to tell you that saying those words there with you have changed the whole of my life. I’m a different person.
Now, I believe that the remedy for every human problem is provided by the cross. And so I went back to the cross to try and find out about the problem of rejection. And I realized something startling. That the final agony of Jesus on the cross was rejection by his Father. If you read the account, right near the end of that awful experience he said, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And there was no answer from heaven for the first time in the history of the universe. The Father turned a deaf ear to the Son’s cry. And Jesus knew that his Father had rejected him. Why had he rejected him? The scripture says God is of purer eye than to look upon iniquity and cannot behold sin. And when Jesus was made sin with out sinfulness, God averted his eyes and stopped his ears to the cry of his Son. And there was only more cry that came from the lips of Jesus and he expired. I believe it’s literally correct that he died of a broken heart. What broke his heart was not rejection by his own people, not even betrayal by Judas, but rejection by his Father. And for every person that has suffered the agonies of rejection here tonight, I want to tell you right now Jesus bore it for you that you might be set free. If ever there was good news for this generation, that’s it.
What’s the opposite of rejection? Acceptance. And I love the King James Version of Ephesians 1 because it says God has made us accepted in the beloved. Jesus was rejected. God’s true and only begotten son, that we who were rebels and unworthy might have his acceptance with the Father. So the deepest remedy for your problem is to believe that Jesus bore your rejection that you might have his acceptance with the Father.
Sometimes there are problems with earthly parents that can never be resolved. I was talking to a young lady here this morning. And I advised her not to try to resolve her particular problem with her real father. At least I suggested that she not do that. That’s exceptional but I believe in the circumstances it was probably the wisest thing. But friend, no matter if nobody wants you, nobody loves you, your parents weren’t even married, when you come to God through Jesus Christ, you become a member of the best family in the universe. And God has no second class kids. We don’t bother him, we don’t upset him, we don’t disturb him, we never take too much of his time, he’s never too busy. The only thing that upsets him is when we stay away too long. Never go to God like a beggar, you’re a child.
All right. Now many, many children, and some that have grown up, still carry with them that deep inner wound of rejection. One of the marks of rejection is that never having received love, you find it very difficult to transmit love. The Bible says we love him (God) because he first loved us. If we had not experienced his love, we couldn’t love. And a child who has never experienced love tends to grow up into a parent who cannot transmit love. But once we come to God, the problem is resolved.
Now I believe for children, normally the remedy is twofold. Well, let me say threefold. First of all, recognize your problem. And there may be some of you sitting here tonight that just don’t want to see that particular problem because it’s too painful. Let me suggest that you bare your heart to the Holy Spirit and let him put his finger on the problem. I remember once when I was a medical orderly or a hospital attendant in the desert in North Africa I was working with a man who was rather a brilliant doctor. And a bomb fell from an enemy plane somewhere near us and one of the soldiers was struck with a piece of shrapnel in the shoulder. So he came into the reception station where I was helping the doctor with this little black puncture mark in his shoulder. So I was all busy and helpful and trying to do the right thing and I said, shall I get out a dressing? And the officer said no, give me the probe. So I handed him the little silver stick and he put that in and he moved around and nothing happened for a few moments. And then the probe touched the little piece of shrapnel inside and the man went up in the air. And the doctor knew he’d found the problem. Then I said shall I bring the dressing? And he said no, bring me the forceps. And he put the forceps in, removed the piece of shrapnel. Now, he said, give me the dressing.
Now a lot of Christianity is putting a dressing on a wound that hasn’t had the shrapnel taken out. It says in the 6th chapter of Jeremiah, they’ve healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly saying peace, peace, when there is no peace. It’s no good putting a little dressing of religion over a wound that’s still got something that will cause it to fester. So, what I’m saying is if the Holy Spirit’s probe has touched the shrapnel, even if you yelp, don’t fight. Wait for the probe to come and remove the problem. Then God will put something on that will really heal it.
Now what I am saying to those of you that have this problem, and I could believe that there are at least fifty percent of the people here tonight in some form or another have this problem. Recognize it and forgive your parents. You say, my father is dead. Dead or alive doesn’t matter because it’s for your sake you’re forgiving, not his. Do you understand that? We have a brother that works in Christian Growth Ministries that heard this message. A very brilliant, intellectual, fine young man. And he realized that for years he carried bitterness and resentment, anger and rebellion against his father who was dead. So the next time he was on a vacation he went all the way up to Pennsylvania with his wife. And he left his wife at the edge of the graveyard and he went alone to the place where his father was buried, he knelt there until he knew he’d forgiven his father. And he turned around, walked out of the graveyard a different person. And his wife testifies today he’s a different man to live with. The father was dead but the resentment was very much alive. Forgive for your sake. I don’t have time to go into all the ramifications of that.
And then the other thing I want to say especially to the young people is remember the first commandment with a promise is honor thy father and mother that it may be well with you. And I want to assure every person here tonight that if you do not honor your parents, it will never be well with you. It says honor thy father and mother that thou may leadest a long life and it may be well with you. There’s not one person here that will truly know what it is to have it well until you’re right in your attitude towards your parents. You say to me, well my mother was a prostitute, my father was an alcoholic. You expect me to honor them? Yes. Not as a prostitute and not as an alcoholic but as father and mother. It’s God’s requirement.
I remember when I was newly saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit. I thought I knew so much more than my parents. And I sure did. You know the statement by Mark Twain when he came back home after he’d been away for a number of years and he was surprised at how much his parents had learned in the meantime! Well I was like that. And one day God gave me that scripture. If you want it well with you you learn to honor your parents. My parents are both passed on now but I thank God that I really learned a lesson to show them honor. And I think that’s one reason why I have it well with me.
I’ll tell you another reason in parenthesis. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. That’s just by the way but it says they shall prosper that love thee. Don’t think that’s a cheap way to prosper because there’s a lot involved in praying for the peace of Jerusalem. It costs you something.
All right. Let me just go through this briefly and I’ve got to go onto my last example. If you’ve had a problem with your parents and it’s based on rejection, there are three things you need to do. Recognize your problem. Let the Holy Spirit touch the shrapnel in the wound. And let him remove it with his forceps. Forgive your parents by an act of your will, a decision. Set your will to honor them. Charles Simpson has got a beautiful message on honor which I trust someday you’ll all hear. But honor is a thing that we in modern America have just about forgotten the meaning. Nobody wants to honor anybody any longer. And it’s one of the most beautiful things that makes life sweet and livable is honoring people.
All right. The other obvious case that we meet so much of is the relationship between wife and husband. And many, many times I like most other ministers deal with wives who feel that their husband has betrayed them. What are you going to do about it? Now when you are betrayed by a person—and it may be a wife betrayed by a husband or it may be various other things—the natural reaction is something like this. You say, I’ll turn away, I’ll never open myself up again. No one will ever get another chance to hurt me again like that. That’s a very wrong reaction. I’ve learned in deliverance there’s a demon called indifference. And that’s the reaction of somebody who’s been hurt just once too often. And indifference says, all right, I’ll go through life but I’ll never let anybody come near enough to hurt me again like that. I’ll always keep a wall between me and other people. You know who suffers? You do. You become a shriveled incomplete personality. You become like a tree with one main limb lopped off. You can’t afford it. What are you going to have to do? It’s easy to tell you, it’s not so easy to do it. First of all you’re going to have to forgive that person. Now that’s not too difficult.
I remember once talking to a lady who had come for deliverance. And I said to her you’re going to have to forgive your husband. She said after he’s ruined fifteen years of my life and then run off with another woman? And I said, well, do you want him to ruin the rest of your life? If so, just keep resenting him because it will do it. Remember it isn’t the one who is resented that suffers most, it’s the one who resents. As somebody said about the man with the ulcer. It isn’t what the man is eating, it’s what eating the man. You can forgive. When the Holy Spirit comes to you, you can forgive. If you will. But friends, it’s got to go further. You’ve got to trust your husband. Now you may not like me and I may be wrong, though I like to quote Bob Mumford when he said how can I help it if I’m right? I always quote him at that point because it makes me sound humble.
But my personal conclusion is as of today, and not excluding the wonderful state of Georgia, the majority of American women do not trust American men. And I think that’s one of the deep basic problems of this nation. Now I could talk to many of you and you could give me fifteen good reasons why American males are not to be trusted. And probably I wouldn’t disagree with a single reason. But nevertheless, if you want the full complete life, you’re going to have to trust your husband.
I’ll tell you this: Many of the wives here tonight are not really satisfied with their husbands. You don’t have to put your hand up. Some of you are not satisfied with them as husbands period. They don’t do the right thing, they don’t love you, they don’t bring you flowers on your birthday, they forget your anniversary and a lot more intimate things than that. But others of you are not satisfied with your husband’s spirituality. That’s probably the condition of most Spirit baptized women in this room here tonight. Because I have met multitudes of you. I mean, I’ve been meeting you for almost twelve years, I almost know what you’re going to say. And you know what always tickles me with American couples is along comes the woman with her husband in tow and says, please Mr. Prince, this is my husband, he’s got so and so. And I say, doesn’t the man speak?! Do you have to interpret for him? Well, that must have happened to me a dozen times.
So, what I want to say is this, and I’m coming near the end. I think I can say God showed me about two or three weeks ago that most men will never be what they could be or should be if their wives don’t help them. The mistrust of a wife is such a tremendous negative pressure that ninety percent of men will never rise above it. Now there are a few giants like John Wesley who rose about the fact that his wife even dragged him around the house by his hair. But the average man is not a John Wesley. And what I’m saying to you ladies is this: If you ever want your husband to be what you’re dreaming he should be and praying he should be, there’s one more thing you’ve got to do—trust him. I’ve said this to a few ladies and they said, you don’t know my husband. No I don’t, but I do know God’s condition.
I believe this is the great revolution that’s coming. You can see the other side of it is women’s lib. And women’s lib in my opinion, and I’m no sociologist, is an expression of frustrated womanhood who cannot find men to trust. And in a way I sympathize with them. But I don’t believe it’s the divine solution. I believe you’ve got to do something about it.
Listen, I want to give you two examples from the writings of Paul. I think there’s a grace to trust people. I was preaching on this the other day and a lady came up to me at the end and I could see she was bursting. She said, Mr. Prince, doesn’t a man have to earn confidence? Well I’m not going to argue with that. But I think sometimes you’ve got to get it on credit. You’re willing to get everything else on credit, why not that! I really do.
Now I want you to just read two passages from 2Corinthians and I’ve really come to the end of what I’m going to say. You’ve all doubtless read 1Corinthians, you’re aware that there were a lot of problems in the Corinthian church. There was a man who had his father’s wife, there was drunkenness at the Lord’s table, there was disorder, there was faction, there was jealousy, it was not a model church. And yet in his second epistle Paul says this. Now I just want to read these two passages. 2Corinthians 2:3:
I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should, have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.(KJV)
Isn’t that an amazing statement? Could you have said that, having confidence in you all. Who gave him that confidence? The Lord. What made him able to help those people? His confidence in them. If you don’t have confidence in someone I don’t think you can ever help them. It’s a necessary requisite for being a blessing. Chapter 7, verse 16:
I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.(KJV)
Could you believe that? He could have given fifteen good reasons to have no confidence in the Corinthian church but he didn’t. The only thing that’s going to life people is trusting. Parents, you’re going to have to trust your children. Wives, you’re going to have to trust your husband. Not with reservations but just open yourself up and expose yourself. And if you’re wounded, let love flow out of the wound. I really believe that this is the solution to the problem of Charismatic wives. Because basically the majority of them are not satisfied with the spirituality of their husband. The more dissatisfied they are, the more they hold their husband down. It takes a real giant of a man to rise above his wife’s mistrust. Most men will not do it.
All right. That’s all I have to say. Now I want to just give you an opportunity to act on what I’ve been talking about. Then we’ll go into the healing service. Let me relate a little incident that happened in Austin, Texas, earlier this year. I was conducting a healing service there and God was marvelously healing a good number of people. And a little girl of about twelve years old was brought by her mother and she had some kind of bone disease which had caused her legs to bend outward. Now I want you to listen to the end of this story before you comment, otherwise you’ll comment too soon. As I held her feet, the mother and I watched her legs straighten vividly. She walked out of that meeting that night with straight legs for the first time in years. Early next morning, and the mother told me this at another meeting in Texas later, the mother woke up and God said to her inside her spirit, healing begins inside. When she went to her daughter in the bed, the legs were crooked again. And I praise God for that mother. When she came to see me she was not discouraged. She said Brother Prince, I realize there’s a whole lot of things that have got to be put right in our family first. God had showed her what he could do but then he laid down the conditions. That’s a remarkable case, I’ve never met another one just like it. But what I want to say to you is the words she heard are the truth. Healing begins inside. Lots of you tonight will either be healed or not healed according to what happens inside you in the next five minutes. The barriers are not on God’s side. They were all torn down at the cross. If there are any barriers, they’re on our side.
Now I want to give you opportunity to let the barriers down. And I want to deal specifically with two types of persons. People who need to forgive their parents, and some of you may be in your 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and still need to forgive your parents. Lay down the bitterness and resentment. Be delivered from rejection and know the full acceptance of God in Jesus Christ. And have that aching wounded heart of yours healed.
And then there are those who have been betrayed and wounded by a partner. Let’s not just make it the husband, it may be a wife. And you have never overcome betrayal. You’ve never really forgiven and you’ve never really been willing to put trust in that person again. Just think of the example of Jesus for a moment. If you’d been Jesus you’d have given up on all disciples at that point. You’d have said I’ll never trust another disciple. But that wasn’t how Jesus responded. I think personally the one thing that saved Peter was that somehow he knew the Lord still trusted him.
All right. I want to have those now come forward for prayer who need to lay down bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, especially from rejection, forgive their parents, the other partner or some other person. Now if you are in that condition, without pressure, without emotionalism, on the basis of a decision in the light of what I’ve said, I’m inviting you to come down here to the front. Now when we are ready I’m going to lead you in a kind of confession of faith and a prayer to the Lord. And once you’ve said the prayer, I don’t want you to have your eyes on me, I want you to let the Lord just do what he will. I had a very beautiful letter after the service in Kentucky from an elderly lady, she must be in her 50’s at least. A mature person, a teacher. And she told me how her life had been transformed because at last she had forgiven her husband who had been divorced at least twenty years.
While others remain in a silent prayerful attitude I’m going to ask those of you that are here at the front to follow me in a statement that you make to the Lord that’s a confession and a prayer. I want you to realize that you’re dealing with the Lord, not with me and he’s dealing with you by they Holy Spirit. And I want you to expose yourself to the Holy Spirit. He’s the finger of God. He can reach in and pull out that little piece of shrapnel that has been festering there so long. And I just ask the believers out in the congregation to be really prayerful at this moment that the Lord will help me to be wise and gracious and sensitive. I’m going to lead you first of all in a confession of faith in Jesus Christ. That’s where it all begins. Say this with me. “Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you are the Son of God and the only way to God. That you died on the cross for my sins and that you rose again from the dead. I turn away from all sin, known or unknown, and I turn to you Lord for mercy and forgiveness. And now Lord, by a deliberate act of my will, I lay down bitterness, resentment, hatred and rebellion. I forgive my parents and I thank you God that through Jesus Christ you have accepted me as your child. I’m not rejected, I’m not unwanted. I’m a child of God. God is my Father. God loves me. I’m a member of his family. And heaven is my home. I thank you for this. And Lord, I now forgive any other person, be it husband or wife, whoever it may be, I forgive them now as I would have God forgive me. And Lord, by your grace, from this night onward, I mean to do two things. To honor my parents and to trust my partner in life. Help me to do it God by the power of your Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus.” Now just let God make that real to you.
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