Summary: A WORD TO THE CHURCH - Haggai (Part 5) God has an ordained leader that He has chosen. Will you follow the leader? (This message is not recomended for those who are not committed to servant leadership.)

Have you noticed a difference in the salute given by our military men and women as President Bush walks by? Most folks would not notice anything, but those who have served in the military see it right away. Next time just watch for this: as President Bush leaves his helicopter or Air Force One, the honor guard will salute–first facing the President as he disembarks, turning to face him as he passes by, and then turning again to salute the President’s back as he walks away.

Though it is a customary courtesy to the Commander-in-Chief, this kind of salute has not been seen for a long time. Why? Soldiers aren’t required to turn and face the President as they salute, nor to salute his back. The only requirement is to salute. They can remain face-forward the entire time, and that is what they did during the previous administration. Our soldiers had to obey President Clinton’s orders, but they were not forced to respect him.

Why is such respect afforded to President Bush? Could it be that he doesn’t know how to bite his lower lip and not get teary-eyed when he speaks?

The following incident reported by Major General Van Antwerp is one of many examples that may help us to understand why President Bush is so respected by our military. Gen. Antwerp’s executive officer LTC Brian Birdwell was badly burned following the September 11th attack on the Pentagon. When President Bush visited Brian in the hospital, our President took the time to stop and pray with him. As he was getting ready to leave, he went to the foot of Brian’s bed and saluted; the President held his salute until Brian was able to raise his burned and bandaged arm, ever so slowly, in return. The Commander-in-Chief almost never initiates a salute; the injured soldier did not have to return the salute. Brian did so out of respect for his President . . . a Soldiers’ President.

As our nation faces the possibility of war in Iraq, we are blessed to know that our armed forces will not just be carrying out the orders of the Commander-in-Chief; they will be following a respected leader into battle.

Jesus has given his church marching orders; God is calling each of us to active duty. Will our response to the Lord be only that which is required of us? Will we try to simply fulfill our duty? Or will our response be an overflow of our hearts expressed through loving obedience and worship to our God?

Now I know that’s what many of us will say we want, but this is not just a feel good response that we make to the Lord. We can’t just say we’ll answer God’s call and then go on with life as usual. IF WE ARE GOING TO FOLLOW CHRIST, THEN WE MUST BE WILLING TO FOLLOW THE LEADERS THAT GOD HAS PLACED IN AUTHORITY OVER OUR LIVES. No sugar coating today; we’re going to get very practical. That’s the only way we can become the church God has planned for us to be.

Over the last four weeks we have been looking at a series of messages "A WORD TO THE CHURCH." God used the prophet Haggai to call the nation of Israel back to the work of building the temple. For 16 years the people had neglected the work of God; with misaligned priorities the people lived comfortably in their paneled houses while the house of God was still a pile of ruins. It was time for God’s work to be done!

The same is true for us today. God is calling each of us to examine our priorities. HOW HAVE WE NEGLECTED THE WORK OF GOD? It is time for each of us to cooperate with His Spirit in the building of His Church.

I’ve said it now for four weeks; Satan cannot destroy the church, but he can slow it down. Satan will slow God’s work through mixed up priorities (we saw that often our priorities will get out of alignment because of fear). WHEN OUR PRIORITIES ARE OUT OF BALANCE, WE OFTEN PURSUE OUR OWN COMFORT–WHILE NEGLECTING GOD’S PURPOSES.

Let me remind you that if you are comfortable, or if you are on a “spiritual cruise control, then you are in a danger zone. Jesus has no blessing for the "comfortable,” but only for those who were zealous for His kingdom to the laying down of their own lives (see Matthew 5:3-12). God wants to move us out of our comfort zone in order to complete His work.

You are a part of the miracle that is Praise A/G. Only as we are willing to cooperate with God will we become the church that He has designed. Yes, Jesus is building His church, but GOD’S PLAN IS NOT TO BUILD THE CHURCH IN SPITE OF YOU; GOD WANTS TO BUILD HIS CHURCH THROUGH YOU.

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