The Loyalty of Ittai

Loyalty2 Samuel 15:21 – But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”

Meet Ittai

Who was Ittai? He was a foreigner. He was an exile. He had barely even been with David. And so David, right before the going got tough, told Ittai to leave while he could; this wasn’t his fight. David even sent Ittai and his countrymen off with a blessing.

But Ittai’s loyalty ran deep. We don’t know why, and I’m not sure it even matters. Ittai responded to David with these words,

As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”

David clearly recognized and appreciated this loyalty and so honored Ittai by permitting Ittai, including his men and their families, to stay on.

This kind of loyalty seems rare today. Whenever I see such displays in a movie or book, they virtually jump off the screen or page at me, demanding to be noticed and honored.

Loyalty to Christ

I wonder how many followers of Christ would follow their Lord wherever he may go and to whatever end. What makes this so difficult is our Lord goes everywhere. He goes into our families, homes, workplaces, thought-lives, churches, TV rooms, cars, grocery-store checkout lines, cultural battles, conversations, and on and on and on. Not only does he go to those places but he claims Lordship over them. And his claim is not an empty one. He has been given authority in those places. Ephesians 1:22 says,

And God placed all things under [Christ’s] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church…”

Christ is the King over all things, the Lord over every sphere of life. That’s simply a fact about reality. And yet there is a sense in which, in this present age, he is still seeking to extend his Kingdom into every sphere of life. It’s part of the “already and not yet” nature of his Kingdom. What is so astonishing is that he calls those of us who are his followers to be the very ones who extend his Kingdom. Through us! Truly amazing!

You Will Have to Die

The question is, will we be loyal and faithful to our Lord as Ittai was to King David? Will we follow our Lord to whatever end? We don’t have to guess as to whether or not there will be death. There will be. That’s an up-front promise by our Lord himself.

First and foremost there will be death to self. For there to be fruit a seed must die. For Christ’s followers to bear fruit for our King, we must die – to ourselves, our sin, agendas, self-centeredness, egos, idols, and so forth. Make no mistake about it, this is death and it can be quite painful.

And yet there is also the promise of life – real life, everlasting life, fullness of life. And this promised life is just as guaranteed as our death. For just as we die with Christ so too are we raised with him, to be and become as he now is.

The beauty of all this is found in the truth that our King has already been where he calls us to go. Furthermore, he has promised to travel with us to encourage, strengthen, and guide us along the way, the narrow way. That’s a comforting thought indeed.

Will you be loyal to your Lord and King? Will you follow him to whatever end?


Walking Points

• What’s your favorite example of loyalty from the movies or literature?
• Why is that your favorite example?
• What makes loyalty to Christ so hard in our world?
• What are three ways you can grow in your loyalty to Christ?
• What would such loyalty look like in your everyday life?
• Share your answers to these questions with a friend, and ask him what his answers are. Pray for one another.


Prayer

Ever faithful and loyal God, I praise you that you are steadfast in your commitment to me. You have promised you would never leave me nor forsake me. I ask you to please forgive me that I am not as committed to you. I have forsaken, disobeyed, and even been ashamed of you too many times to count. This realization and admission grieves me, though not nearly as much as it should. But I am grateful for your grace and your forgiveness and for another day to loyally serve you and your Kingdom. I’m clearly not up to it in my own strength, so please fill, direct, and empower me through your Spirit to be your man, your faithful ambassador in every sphere of my life, and to follow you wherever you may lead. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.


This Week’s Prayer Guide

[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]

Petitions – prayers for yourself

• Spiritual Warfare
• Growth in Christlikeness
• Increasing faithfulness in the spiritual disciplines
• My health
• For my ordinary appointments and activities to become divine appointments and activities.
• Other needs

Intercession – prayers for others

• My Family
• Mercy for those who are poor and hungry
• Justice for those who are oppressed and persecuted
• Love for those who oppress and persecute others
• Peace for those in the midst of war, crime, and violence
• Other needs

Some Good News

1 John 1-9Brothers, this is good news. Our forgiveness doesn’t depend on how we feel about it. If we have genuinely confessed our sins to God, he is faithful. The weight of this good news is on Christ’s atoning work and God’s promise… not on your feelings.

That’s good news because sometimes we can beat ourselves up for past sins. But God doesn’t want us to walk in shame and guilt… especially when he’s provided such a wonderful salvation that offers forgiveness.

Neither does he want us to continue sinning, and so the blood of Christ also does the work of cleansing us from present sins in our lives. God is good indeed.

Read 1 John 1:5 – 1 John 2:2 for the context.

Walk in the Light Brothers,
Dale

Godly Men are Kingdom Disciples

people5Luke 13:20-21 – And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”

A Definition

A Kingdom Disciple is a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. The phrase, Kingdom Disciple, is my shorthand way of communicating what it means to live faithfully as Christ’s follower, under his Lordship, and for his Kingdom. This distinctive is not mine. It’s neither innovative nor original. However, my goal in emphasizing Kingdom Discipleship is to help men see more fully what God has revealed in and through his Word about following Christ.

Jesus Christ is Lord

By using the phrase, Kingdom Discipleship, I wish to remind disciples of Jesus Christ that our calling is to faithfully and obediently follow Christ in every sphere of life. This is imperative because Jesus Christ is Lord over every sphere of life. It was God who granted Jesus authority over heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18) and gave him the name above every name (Phil. 2:9). It would, therefore, run counter to the biblical witness regarding our Lord’s authority, for men to live compartmentalized lives as his followers. God doesn’t want us to submit to Christ for just 70 or even 95 percent of our lives. He wants all of us. To paraphrase Abraham Kuyper, there is not a square inch in all the universe Christ has not claimed for himself.

Therefore, our calling as his followers is to intentionally, faithfully, obediently, and joyfully extend his Kingdom – his rule, reign, will, and influence – into every sphere of our lives (in every area of responsibility, interest, relationship, and authority). Everything, the common and the uncommon, the sacred and the secular, is to be done for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) and according to his will.

God’s Kingly Influence

The influence of the Kingdom of God and of his Christ must come through gracious, loving, and truthful persuasion, modeling, and witness, never through coercion or manipulation. The kind of transformed individual, family, church, state, society, and world God desires will not, indeed, must not, come through violent political revolution or rebellion but by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit and the subsequent “salt and light influence” of God’s people.

The Local Church

The primary means, humanly speaking, by which God’s Kingdom is extended in this way is through local assemblies of God’s people. It is in and through the life of the local church that the life-giving, life-transforming Gospel of the Kingdom is proclaimed, taught, and lived out. It is only as men, women, boys, and girls are reborn by the Spirit of God that they can enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-8). Then, as they grow in their faith, having their minds continually renewed and lives transformed, they become better educated, equipped, and encouraged to take this good news of the Kingdom into every sphere of their lives. And just as the woman’s yeast is mixed into the dough and worked until it permeates all of it (Luke 13:20-21), so too is the Kingdom of God extended into every sphere of life by his disciples.


Walking Points

• Based on this devotional, how would you explain what it means to “extend your faith into every sphere of life?”
• Have you tended to compartmentalize your faith or does it permeate and influence the different areas of your life?
• What are some ways your faith ought to influence your home, workplace, and community?
• What are you presently doing to be such an influence?
• How can you help other Christians gain a larger vision of the Christian life?
• Meet with two or three Christian brothers and pray for such a “kingdom expanding” revival among God’s men to begin today.


Prayer

My great God and King, Lord of all, I ask you to forgive me for not submitting all my life to you and, therefore, not seeking to advance your rule and reign into every sphere of my life. Awaken me with your Spirit and enable me to see and hear more clearly the needs of the world around me. As your ambassador of salt and light, use me how you will to hold back the darkness and slow the decay of this world. Let my life be a shining city on a hill that cannot be hidden so that, upon seeing my good works, you will receive all the praise and glory in heaven. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.


This Week’s Prayer Guide

[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]

Petition – prayers for yourself

• Help me to mature in my faith and to increasingly please God by my thoughts, words, and deeds.
• Particular struggles in various relationships
• My activities for this day
• Other needs

Intercession – prayers for others
• My Family
• My local church
• My denomination
• Para-church ministries, particularly Christian education and discipleship
• Evangelistic ministries
• Other needs

My Only Comfort in Life and Death

Catechism1The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 1


1. Question: What is your only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I am not my own,[1] but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death,[2] to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.[3] He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.[5] He also preserves me in such a way[6] that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head;[7] indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.[8] Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life[9] and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.[10]

[1] I Cor. 6:19, 20 [2] Rom. 14:7-9. [3] I Cor. 3:23; Tit. 2:14. [4] I Pet. 1:18, 19; I John 1:7; 2:2. [5] John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14, 15; I John 3:8. [6] John 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; II Thess. 3:3; I Pet. 1:5. [7] Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18. [8] Rom. 8:28. [9] Rom. 8:15, 16; II Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14. [10] Rom. 8:14.


2. Question: What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

Answer: First, how great my sins and misery are;[1] second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery;[2] third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.[3]

[1] Rom. 3:9, 10; I John 1:10. [2] John 17:3; Acts 4:12; 10:43. [3] Matt. 5:16; Rom. 6:13; Eph. 5:8-10; I Pet. 2:9, 10.

The Old, Old Story

church2Below is an excerpt from my book, Foundations for Godly Manhood.

Dr. Craddock

One of the highlights of attending seminary in Atlanta was sitting under the teaching of Dr. Fred Craddock. Dr. Craddock was a gifted and world-renowned preacher and preaching instructor. It was a privilege and blessing to take a preaching class taught by him.

One of the things Dr. Craddock taught us, something that’s always stayed with me, came from a story he told us. He shared with our class a snippet of a conversation he had with one of his former students who had graduated and was serving a little rural church.

The former student told Dr. Craddock he was going to wake that little country church up. He was going to bring them into the present. He was going to be new and fresh. As an example of this, he wasn’t going to preach the same old tired stuff during Christmas, stuff they all knew. He was going to hit them with something new.

Dr. Craddock lovingly, and I’m sure, convincingly, shared with this eager new preacher that what those people needed, what we all need, especially during the seasons of Advent and Lent, is the old, old story of what God has done in Christ.

The Old, Old Story

It’s not that a preacher shouldn’t seek to know the needs of the congregation and connect with them in their context. The preacher should not seek to be irrelevant. However, the truth is, a clear and honest telling of the old, old story is the most relevant subject there is. Many hymns remind us the “old, old story” is the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here’s how the hymn, “Victory in Jesus,” communicates the old, old story,

I heard an old, old story,
how a Savior came from glory,
how he gave his life on Calvary
to save a wretch like me;

I heard about his groaning,
of his precious blood’s atoning,
then I repented of my sins
and won the victory.

O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever!
he sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood;
he loved me ere I knew him, and all my love is due him;
he plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

That’s the old, old story.

When we think about the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Good News of what God has done in and through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ, we usually go back 2,000 years. But the story is older than that. In one sense, it goes all the way back into eternity, into the mind of God who’s always existed.