There is an important role within the local church that many people overlook, the local pastor. Most people fail to understand that the local pastor is a gift from Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12). The local pastor is given to mature the people of God in the things of God. In many passages of the Bible, the words used for pastor and shepherd are the same. This reflects local pastors are supposed to be shepherds to the sheep of the church. God gives pastors according to his heart to feed with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:15). What if a person does not have a pastor? What is that person missing from God due to not being under the pastor God has for them? Pastors can provide peace and safety to the people God places under them within the local church (Jeremiah 23:4). Every Christian benefits from having a pastor. Even pastors should have a pastor to feed them the Word of God, give wisdom, and provide safety from spiritual enemies.
David, one of the most famous shepherds of the Bible, is a great example of what happens when people submit to a captain (like the local pastor). In 1 Samuel 22, David is in the cave of Adullam (which means testimony) and 400 men, not including their families, go to submit to him as their captain. Each of these people was either distressed, in debt, discontented or a combination of each. When these men submitted to David they became mighty men of valor with some having their names recorded in the Bible for their acts of overcoming situations within their own lives (2 Samuel 23). What if these men did not submit to a spiritual leader? Would they and their families have been saved from the issues they were in? Even if they could overcome those issues how much longer would it have taken without the leader God ordained to help them? If pastors are a gift from Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11), why would anyone not take their gift and mature in the things of God? Many reasons come to mind such as laziness, rebellion, ignorance, religiosity, etc. but only Christians that do not have a pastor can truly answer for themselves. Not only is it important to have a local pastor but to submit to the one God has ordained for each person’s life. Think of the process David had to use to challenge these 400 men to push them in training, teach them to understand different subjects, and also help them grow in various areas of life. This is the true calling of a pastor. One saying of pastoring could not be more true, “If your pastor does not know your name, you do not have a pastor”. Many Christians will say they go to church or have a pastor but this is a religious answer to keep the false appearance of being a Christian when the truth states otherwise.
Now a challenge to pastors. Be the man after God’s own heart to lead the people much like David. Was David perfect? No, and neither will any pastor because they are still human. This does not give an excuse to not do the job God has called every pastor to fulfill. Be the feeder of the Word of God, the protector of God’s sheep, and the captain to challenge the people of God to become mighty men and women of valor for the glory of God. Every pastor is not called to shepherd the world, but to pastor the local church God has ordained him to lead.
Many Christians will agree that the current time reflects the last days referred to within the Bible. Even with this mindset, some Christians overlook the importance of going to church, especially being planted and loyal to the local church God has called them to attend. Jesus had the custom of going to the temple (Luke 4:16) or what Christians would now call the local church. If the name Christian is to be “Christ-like” why do some Christians believe that church attendance is optional? Even Jesus warns believers that there are eternal dangers of having excuses for not attending church (Luke 14:15-24). This supper represents the gathering of people to fellowship with God in the local church but just as in today’s time some will make excuses to not come even by the invitation through God’s representatives. Within Luke 14:15-24, the reader can see there are three excuses given to not attend the great supper. The first excuse is buying a piece of ground (verse 18) which reflects a hobby or home that is more important than God. No hobby is ever more important than God or His house. Having an emergency like a water leak or a rare occasion that needs dire attention would be an occasion for home needs but to stay at home or do house duties is not a valid excuse according to Jesus Christ. The second excuse is the yoke of oxen (verse 19) which represents a job or business that is more important than God. Having a rare occasion to work on a church day may be an exception but this cannot be the majority of our lives, or a person begins to serve mammon and not God (Matthew 6:24). The third excuse is marrying a wife (verse 20) which displays placing family as more important than God. Family is very important to God, but even they are not a valid excuse to not attend church. Invite family to worship God and use this time to let them experience God in His house. Each of these items is important in its regard but not more important than God at any time.
If many Christians agree these are the last days, the answer should be more church attendance and not less (Hebrews 10:25). When Christians are away from the house of God there is a lack of restraint allowing them to live a life that looks more like the world and less like God (Proverbs 29:18). What better place can a person, especially a Christian, go to have their mind renewed by the Word of God (Romans 12:1-2). The answer? Nowhere. What better place can a person learn the ways of God (Isaiah 2:3)? Nowhere.
Can a person experience God anywhere? Absolutely, but the best place to be with Him is in His house. The thought comes to mind that when person A goes to person B’s house person A expects person B to be home to fellowship. Sure, person A could call or use technology to have video and audio access but nothing replaces the face-to-face fellowship where all the senses can experience the visit. Nothing can replace being in the house of God with His presence and His people. Where God’s presence can be felt, seen moving in the lives of His people (1 Corinthians 14:26), tasted to see that He is good (Psalm 34:8), and the Word of God heard (2 Kings 22:8). May Christians everywhere see the importance of the local church and not forsake God, His house, or His people.
When a person believes they are not at war that person is easily distracted. The great falling away is the enemy's plan to deceive Christians.
In Judges 7:2-7, Gideon’s soldiers were faced with a challenge to test their readiness for battle. Within this passage, there are three types of soldiers: good, comfortable, and quitter.
One type of soldier is a good soldier (in Judges 7:6) that does what is required to fulfill service to the commander. The soldiers that lapped water like a dog do not reflect they shoved their faces into the water and used their tongues, but instead, this refers to the repeated motion of the hand to the mouth to sip the water from their hand similar to a dog using the tongue to drink. These men kept their eyes on their surroundings in battle readiness for an enemy to arise at any time. Christians should be ready for battle at all times against the spiritual enemies of the last days.
2 Timothy 2:3-4 reflects the following traits of a good soldier. A good soldier endures and fights during hard times. A good soldier does not get wrapped up in the things of this life (civilian, non-war minded), but remembers there is a war to be won and aims to please the commander (God).
The second type of soldier is a comfortable soldier. A weekend warrior only participates in the things of God at the time they choose and only commits the minimum requirements of service. This soldier seeks fire insurance (not going to hell), healing (receiving healing, but not continuing to be faithful in service to God), financial blessing (receiving finances, but not being faithful in tithe or service to God), and using the church to advance themselves. The other soldiers (in Judges 7:6) kneeled beside the water in a more comfortable position to drink the water and were not ready for an enemy to attack. These soldiers had more desire than to just quit, but their desire still allowed their comfort or habit to hinder their preparedness for battle. Their bowing was a symbol of surrender and carelessness amid possible enemy territory. God desires us to give our all for Him, not just occasions (Deuteronomy 10:12-13).
The third type of soldier is the quitter. An AWOL (absent without leave) soldier has been given the opportunity to be a first-class soldier, but that soldier has chosen to abandon their post (church) and pursue their own desires. In Judges 7:3, the men were afraid to die. For people today it is not a fear of dying, but a fear of giving up things of the flesh or comfort to battle for God (2 Chronicles 29:11).
God calls us to do work for Him and His kingdom. This call can be preaching, teaching, being a prayer deacon, or a faithful tither to assist your church, but every role is important. Being AWOL affects your life and the church that God has called you to.
Everyone has been given the call to become Christians in the army of God making them soldiers of God (Acts 1:8). The Great Commission charges all believers to become soldiers in putting the Word of God and His witness across the world (Mark 16:15).
May we examine to see which type of soldier we are. If you have never given your life to God to be His soldier, He is calling you to come to Him to give you victory over the enemy, death, and hell (1 John 1:9; Romans 10:9).