Reading in Daniel 4 this morning, we find a cycle that is so frequently seen in life and unfortunately also in the church today. King Nebuchadnezzar had already experienced the “fourth man in the furnace” and was proclaiming the majesty and glory of God. He was speaking of how God had intervened in his life to bring all he has. The King is proclaiming the eternal majesty of God, but God sees the hidden faults of the heart and in His wisdom and mercy gives the King a dream warning him of what is to come. Daniel interprets the dream and warns the king to “stop sinning and do what is right; break from your wicked past and possibly God will allow you to continue to prosper.” Even with the warning, we see the King’s heart become filled with pride as he looks over “his great city of Babylon” and proclaims, “I have built this beautiful city”. We see the king forgetting the God who warned him in the dream of his potential fall or the God who he,only a short time before, had praised for bringing him all he had. The story continues and the King is driven to live like an animal for 7 years until he once again “looked up to heaven” and his sanity returned. In God’s incredible grace and mercy, the King was restored as the head of the kingdom and with greater honor than before.
How often do we see so many start out doing a great work for God with such humility, realizing every blessing received can only be from the hand of God. Yet as the “kingdom” gets larger and the person more powerful and seemingly important, suddenly the focus shifts. He or she may begin to listen to the “press” of others and begin to believe what they hear. They fear God may not move in time, and will push ahead, avoiding very important lessons for the next stage of their ministry or life.
I’ve watched as some have slipped out of their calling, ministry and destiny because of pride and wandered around outside of their assigned place as did King Nebuchadnezzar. For some, it seems hard to settle down and live in the moment with God, because our focus is always so far ahead of where we are at the moment. Our pride and possibly greed for glory is causing us to look way ahead and forget there are so many necessary lessons to be learned in those crucial “now moments with God”. We can ignore all the signs being given to us by God and forge on ahead and find ourselves cast out and away from everything God called us to be, do and occupy. Pride is the culprit. It causes us to be inpatient, compromising and eventually disappointed.
I believe this story in Daniel is a warning for all of us to keep our hearts humble and constantly before God. I believe we must realize that we live in a world and culture that creates a malignant self-centeredness in the hearts of people and this “disease” must be cut out as aggressively as we would remove a malignant tumor from our body.
We must guard our hearts above all else. Others depend on it!
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.