Celebration – Men and Women

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Celebration – Men and Women

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 2nd December 2018

I was sitting there in our Men’s Prayer Meeting Wednesday morning…  we’d had a few laughs at the start as usually do…  and this particular morning we decided to sow our accumulated coffee money that we’d saved over the whole year, to the youth who are heading off to Summer Camp.  To the men!

But then we did what we also do every Wednesday morning – we gathered together and stood (spiritually speaking) on the walls of our church, our families, our region and our nation, as watchmen on the ramparts, listening for what God was saying to us, and then declaring by faith the things we were led to pray for.

About a dozen men – joined together in faith…  with all our imperfections, knowing we are all still on the journey of being sanctified ourselves…  but together we are doing our best to be the men God has called us to be.

And as I was thinking about the uniqueness of having these strong, faith-filled men taking authority in prayer, covering our church, protecting our families, declaring righteousness over our nation – I thought – this is something that needs to be celebrated. 

This is something that is sacred – something that makes us who we are.

And that thought then became a flood of other thoughts…  

So often we get focussed on the negative and even crazy and evil things that are going on our world…  but what if we lived every day as a celebration of who we are as godly men – as godly women – as faith filled, spirit filled, Jesus loving, God fearing Christians.  And celebrate the incredible life that we are part of.

I want to start with where it all began:

Genesis 1:26-28,  “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

And whereas God said about all other aspects of His creation that it was “good”, when He created a man and a woman, He said, this is “very good.”

This morning I want to celebrate manhood and womanhood.  I want to celebrate that God made us as equally loved, equally valued, equally accepted… but made us distinctive in ways that only complement one other.

Let’s celebrate our differences!

Here’s a thought.

We are made in the image of God – male and female – so that together, we can uniquely reveal all the different facets of God’s glory.  When we can come to that place of appreciating and valuing each other – when we can encourage, nurture and strengthen one another as the bible teaches us – it’s a wonderful celebration of the fullness of God’s glory being expressed in our midst. 

In a moment I want to highlight our different responsibilities as men and women, mainly through the way marriage is described in relation to Christ and the church.   It’s one of the most revealing scriptures on the way men and women are to complement one another in their differences.

But I want to begin by saying, every single person needs to understand this stuff – to understand yourself – and to understand what expectations you should have of those of the opposite sex.

This is not just for married people.  It’s not even just for those looking to be married.  

What I have to say smacks right up against the rubbish about non-binary, gender fluid, gender neutral, blah blah blah that is constantly in our face. 

God created men.  And He created women.  And they are both awesome!  And they are both equal in His eyes and ours.  And both men and women need to be celebrated.  There are two genders.  

And for the very small minority who are confused about their identity – yes, they need loving support and they need opportunity to find healing.   I also know that for every one of us – all of us are going to have a certain level of confusion and anxiety about our identity – until we find our true identity in Jesus Christ.  

That is the key to all of our brokenness – It’s who we are in Jesus Christ that is the ultimate truth.

I’m not here to drag up the negatives this morning.

I’m here to declare what God says.  And He says:

2 Corinthians 5:17-18,  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,”

I’m here to celebrate and lift up the glory of God through the Word of God by clearly identifying men as men, and women as women – and to pray for every one of us to be equipped and empowered with the ministry of reconciliation – reconciling those who are willing, to be reconciled within themselves to their true identity in every way.

Before we get to the marriage part… I love this scripture:

1 Corinthians 16:13-14,  “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.”

What a great exaltation, particularly for the men.

Watch!  Other versions say, be on guard, be alert, keep your eyes open…

And I believe as men who are called to be watchmen, to pray, to discern, to take responsibility for loving our families, our church, through godly leadership, protective care and compassion…  how important it is to be alert, to not be complacent, to see what’s going on – and to take authority in the spirit realm when we see ungodliness and attack on our identity as men, and on the identity of our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren…  

Then it says, stand fast in the faith.

In other words, hold tight to your convictions, stand firm on what you believe…

This of course applies to women, but as we’ll see, men are called to be leaders in this, to be initiators in upholding faith in their family.

Again, let’s celebrate what we know to be true.  Let’s celebrate our faith in Jesus Christ.  

Then it says, be brave and be strong!

The Amplified Bible actually says – act like mature men!  This is why I say, this is particularly for the men this morning.

Mature, mighty men are not just those with bulging muscles and tattoos up their arm.  Strong mature men know who they are as sons of God.  Whether they’ve got short hair or long hair, a beard, a man bun or tatts; whether they love sport, or music, or science, or building, or creating…  maturity is about knowing who they are as men of God – knowing how to stand up for what they believe – knowing how to genuinely love and respect other men and women. 

And this is where you singles come in.  Women, don’t put up with a little boy in a man’s body.  You need maturity…  a man of mature character, disciplined, respectful…  someone who treats you like a daughter of the King.

And of course you want someone who knows how to have fun, to laugh, to be joyful and full of life.  But when it matters most – you want a man to stand up for you, to nurture you, to protect you…

Don’t tolerate violence or abuse.  You show me a man who is violent, who is emotionally, verbally, physically or sexually abusive, and I’ll show you a little boy trapped in a man’s body, who hates himself.  And there’ll probably be good reasons why that little boy is like he is – but until he faces his pain and deals with it, you women need to run a hundred miles in the other direction.

And there’s just one other really important thing about men being strong.  

On our journey to wholeness and sanctification, many of us men acknowledge our fear of failure, and for some of us it’s fear of success…; we need to acknowledge our shame at not measuring up, our insecurity, our tendency to either withdraw or to become aggressive when we’re not coping.

But it’s in that place of facing ourselves, that we have the opportunity to witness powerfully to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Afterall, Jesus didn’t come and die for the perfect and the righteous.  He came for the ones who know they need to be saved.

It’s in the place of repentance and receiving forgiveness that the gospel is outworked powerfully in our own life.  And it’s as we stand on our true identity in Christ and our true destiny as sons of God, that we declare God’s goodness and faithfulness to the world.

And then the last little bit, 1Cor 16:14 says, “Let all that you do, be done with love.”

This is the motivating force of all mature, godly men.  Love for God and love for others.  In fact it’s the foundation for all men and for all women.

Peter talks about being heirs together of the grace of life.  Grace is love that is  unconditional and underserved. Grace is seeing how much we ourselves have been forgiven – and then extending that same love and grace to others.

Whether it’s in relation to our wives, our children or others, love and grace have to be the foundation of everything we do. 

And while we are talking about Peter, and his exhortation to live in the grace of life together as husband and wife – it goes on the say to the men – “that your prayers may not be hindered.”

This is how important it is for husbands – and men – in God’s eyes – that we treat women with honour and respect.  If we aren’t loving our wives according to the word of God, our prayers are going to hit the ceiling and fall to the ground.  

It’s a call to integrity!  You can’t be living as an idiot in one area, and expect to be all cruisey with God in another. That’s exactly what religion has done to men over the centuries.  It’s living a double life – and God won’t tolerate it.

So now…  let’s just draw out a few more really important expectations that God has for men and women as they share their lives together as husband and wife.

Ephesians 5:22-33,  “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

You cannot take one of those verses on its own.  You must receive it all as one beautiful, sacred package for marriage – every verse in context with the others.

And this is what it means for men and women:

Men have the utmost responsibility to lead their wives and family, and to provide headship – just as Christ is the head of the church.

Men are to give their lives for their wives and family.  In a nutshell, it’s called sacrificial love. Jesus gave His life for the church.  Us men are to give our lives for our wives.

Just as our wives are able to come safely and securely under our leadership and headship, we as men must come safely, securely and submissively under the headship of Jesus Christ in our lives.

In fact being a man in marriage means laying down your life.

Before a man can even take hold of that scripture from Ephesians, he must place himself in total submission, in humility, to Jesus.

Micah 6:8,  “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

Jesus Christ has to be the foundation stone in a man’s life before he can expect a woman to submit to his leadership.  And so whether you are married or single, it all begins and ends with doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God.

And this is because men have the greatest responsibility and privilege before God in relation to others.  

Just as Jesus is going to present His church to Himself as glorious and without spot or wrinkle – so a man has the responsibility of presenting his own wife as Holy and without blemish.

We’re to love our wives as we love ourselves.  As husband and wife we are joined as one flesh.

And here again is the call to maturity, discipline, and godliness – men who are called to holiness.  Holiness means being set apart.  A man is set apart for God and to follow God’s blueprint for His life and marriage.  

And so regardless of what has happened in your past – today is a new day of opportunity if you choose it to be.  Sexual purity – the kind of purity that says sexual intimacy is the blessing and joy between a man and a woman in marriage alone…  this is what we are called to celebrate.  

If you want to drift away from God’s design and plan for your life and for marriage, then you take yourself outside of His blessing, His covering, His protection…  It will ultimately cause you pain – lots of pain.

People do it all the wrong way around and wonder why it ends in pain and hurt.

That’s what sin does – it separates us from God and causes pain.  But Jesus pours out His grace and forgiveness upon the repentant heart and says go and sin no more…

There are a lot more instructions for men than there are for women – which highlights the fact that men are the ones to take the greatest responsibility.

We have been created and ordained to not only take responsibility, but to take dominion.  Not as in control and dominion over our family.  But to take dominion as spiritual sons of God and fathers of the faith…  to set the boundaries around our own lives and the lives of those we love.

As watchmen on the walls we have the authority to say what comes in and what goes out.  And I say that in relation to our own areas of responsibility and authority, including our own family.

One clear thing it does say for women – is that they are to respect their husbands.

Again – it all comes as part of the complete package – but it seems that women flourish on expressions of love – while men are encouraged and built up and strengthened by words of affirmation, respect, being honoured by the ones they love.

And for women, God seems to want to draw out the inner beauty of a woman’s soul.

1 Peter 3:3-4,  “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

So God is not saying, don’t get your hair done, or wear nice clothes and jewellery…  He is saying, don’t merely do that…  don’t let that be the main thing!

A real man will certainly be attracted by a women’s outer beauty… Let’s be real! But if that’s where it stops, it’s pretty shallow.  And if God says a women’s inner world and inner beauty is very precious to Him, surely that part of her life is worth nurturing and cultivating.

Again – this inner beauty within women is going to be an expression of God’s own nature and character, because women are made is His image.  And you women will glorify Him through your life by expressing the beauty of your heart and soul, even more than what you’ve got going on on the outside.

And here’s my final thought – flowing directly from that statement. 

Some of you women find it hard to recover your inner beauty and gentle and quiet spirit, because those parts of your inner world have been violated and trampled on by a man.

I want to declare God’s word over you this morning and say that the hidden person of your heart – that place of your inner beauty and gentle spirit – is incorruptible.  

It may have taken a beating by the hands of a man – but it’s just like God’s blueprint for your life.  Nothing can ever take it away.

So I’m asking that the Holy Spirit would breathe upon you afresh right now – maybe you could just sit there and close your eyes…  and see God call forth that incorruptible beauty of who you really are…

If a man has tried to break you – he was never good enough for you.  

I’m asking the Holy Spirit to heal anything from your own past that would say to you that it’s OK for men to treat you that way – it’s what you deserve.

You are a daughter of God – and you only deserve love, nurture, joy, kindness and grace.

And for any man who has allowed himself to fall below his calling to be honourable, pure of heart, pure in his sexuality, respectful of women as God’s daughters…  now is the time to repent – be forgiven – and begin to celebrate what it really means to be a man!

And ladies, begin to celebrate your true identity as pure, godly, blood washed daughters… holy… beautiful… fully restored… fully worthy of being loved and treated with the utmost care.

The more we celebrate the truth of who we are – the more we will begin to walk in it – and the more others will see us for who we are in Christ.

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