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Sermons and Outlines

Daniel 4:34-37

The Pathway To Brokenness

Intro: Perhaps you were fortunate enough in years gone by to see an old mill operated by a water wheel. The water from the creek flowed down and made the wheel turn, rotating the shaft of the mechanism inside the building to grind the wheat into flour. If the miller came up one day and found that the stream was clogged up, his wheel wouldn't work. He could push and shove and try to turn the wheel himself. He could even call in the men from the surrounding farms to help him. His efforts would be in vain until he went up the creek and pulled out the dead logs and debris that dammed up the water. With those hindrances out of the way, the water would flow down again and those wheels would begin to turn.

Today we have pastors and Christian leaders striving and straining everywhere trying to make wheels go around. Church bulletins list all kinds of activities. Church members are urged to visit, call folks, sing in the choir, invite others to church, and pray for revival. There's nothing wrong with all that. It seems to me that this is our situation in the modern church. We have all the necessary machinery, we have the know how and the resources, we just don't have the water. I think we need to wade back up the streams of our lives and look for the log jams and whatever else is stopping the flow of the water from above and take care of them. What we need is a good old fashioned dose of repentance! That's a word you don't hear much of these days, but it is one that will unlock the storehouses of blessing quicker than any program or work of man.

In our text, we are presented with a man by the name of King Nebuchadnezzar. This man was a powerful, prideful man until he was broken by the Lord. When God brought him down, he repented before the Lord and God blessed him. The thing that lacked in Nebuchadnezzar's life is also sadly lacking in the lives of many today. That thing is a spirit of brokenness before the Lord.

When I refer to brokenness, I am not talking about people running around in sack cloth and ashes. Neither am I referring to those who climb stone stairs on their knees to try and impress God. I am referring to a state of the heart that dwells in humility before the Lord. It is a heart that see itself just as it is and, it also sees the Lord as He is. It is simply a state of openness and honest before the Lord. It is being in a position where the Lord can use you for His glory. For the Christian, it is being moldable and yielding to the Lord. For the lost sinner, it is being in a place where you see your own need and are willing to turn to the Lord to get that need met.

Some may ask, "What is so important about being broken before the Lord?" The importance lies in the fact that God uses that which is broken in a greater way than that which is rigid and unyielding to His will. Notice:

God uses for His glory those people and things which are the most perfectly broken. They are the sacrifices in which He delights.

  • •It was through the breaking down of Jacob's natural strength at Peniel that he was brought to the place where God could clothe him with spiritual power.
  • •It was the breaking of the surface of the rock at Horeb by the striking of Moses' rod that let the cool water flow out to the thirsty people of Israel. It was when the 300 elect soldiers under Gideon broke their pitchers (a type of breaking themselves) that the hidden light shone forth to the consternation of their adversaries.
  • •It was when the poor widow broke the seal of the little pot of oil and poured it forth that God multiplied it to pay all her debts and to supply a means of her support.
  • •It was when Jesus took the five loaves and broke them that the bread was multiplied-- sufficient to feed 5000 men.
  • •It was when Mary broke her beautiful alabaster box of ointment that the pent-up perfume filled the house.
  • •It was when Jesus allowed His precious body to be broken by the thorns, the nails, and a spear, redemption poured forth like a crystal stream from which sinners could drink and live.

Yes, the Lord blesses broken things!"

This sermon is about the steps God used to bring Nebuchadnezzar to that place of brokenness before Him. Steps that He will use in your life if you will not bow humbly before Him. This morning, I want you to search your heart throughly, and I want you to see if there are hidden areas that need to be dealt with this morning. Whether you are saved, or lost, this message is for you and can literally change your life this morning, if you will heed its message and respond to the call of God. Today, as the Lord leads, I want to speak for a while on The Pathway To Brokenness. Let the Lord speak to your heart as I do.


A. V. 1 The Scope Of His Power - In his day, Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man in the world. He ruled the mighty kingdom of Babylon and was unrivaled in power and military might.

B. V. 2 The Source Of His Power - Notice that the Bible tells us that God gave the nation of Israel into his hand! Nebuchadnezzar was at the pinnacle of success and power because the Lord allowed him to be in that position! (Ill. There is no such thing as a self-made man! We are nothing more that what God in His Sovereign will has allowed us to be. It is sheer pride for anyone to brag about his/her accomplishments! After all, without God, you would be in Hell this morning. He deserves glory for everything you have and are today!)

C. The Shame Of His Power - While Nebuchadnezzar was a great and powerful king, he was a shameful man in the sight of the Lord. You see, he was in power and in control. He was living independently of God and cared nothing for God or His will.

(Ill. This could picture any of the billions of lost people on this globe today. They have locomotion, emotion and intellect, but they are dead to God and to spiritual issues, Eph. 2:1. They take life for granted. They ignore God and His plan of salvation. They trudge stubbornly on to Hell where damnation and eternal separation from God awaits everyone of them. You may be in control of your life, but if you die without Jesus and end up in Hell, what have you accomplished for yourself? (Ill. Mark 8:36-37) When that day comes, don't get angry at God! He did everything He could do for you, but you made the choice to blindly follow your own self will; you took yourself to Hell! In truth, the sinner isn't in control of his life. The Bible states this fact clearly in at least 2 passages - John 8:44; Eph. 2:1-3.)

(Ill. Sadly, there are many "professing Christians" who act this same way. They call all the shots in their lives without regard for God and His will. In truth, they live as if God were dead! "Professing Christians" who insist in going on in their sins, who refuse to repent and humble themselves before the Lord are a blight on the name of Jesus! They are certainly not humble and broken before the Lord.)

D. There is Nebuchadnezzar, and the billions of other just like him, who refuse to acknowledge God in their lives. Does that describe the way you live this morning? If so, then listen on, God has a word for you!

I. Nebuchadnezzar In His Power


(Ill. In this life, we have been given the tremendous responsibility of a "free will." In other words, we have been given the God given right to chose the path we will take through this world, Joshua 24:15. It will either be a path that brings glory to the Lord, or it will be a pathway of shame and reproach. One that will eventually face the wrath of God. For, regardless of how strong our resolve, there will come a day when God's will will be done in every life! Ill. Eph. 1:11, "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" There are 2 ways given in chapters 2 and 3 in which Nebuchadnezzar exercised the privilege of his free will before the Lord.)

A. 2:1-49 He Exercised The Privilege Of Indifference - (Ill. The context of this chapter.) Nebuchadnezzar came face to face with God in this episode with Daniel. He received great light and had the opportunity to turn to the God of Heaven, v. 28; 37. However, he faced this day of decision by worshiping Daniel, v. 46 and saying that God was just one God among many others. After all this light, his heart was still hardened against the things of God. He was simply indifferent!

(Ill. Many are in this same shape today. They are cold to the things of God. They see His light, they feel His tug, yet they refuse to bow before Him in repentance. This is a dangerous place to be! Do not be guilty of taking the things of God for granted! One day, they will not be around. In Hell, there will be no preaching, no godly praying, no hymns sung and no love of God drawing you unto Himself. Do not make the same mistake as Nebuchadnezzar, but flee your sins and run to Jesus for salvation.)

B. 3:1-30 He Exercised The Privilege of Indulgence - (Ill. The context of this chapter. The fact that this man persisted in building this idol, either of himself or his god, is a clear indicator that he was unchanged from his previous brush with the Lord.) In this instance, Nebuchadnezzar comes face to face with God again. This time, he sees God working in great power in the lives of others. This time, he goes farther than before in his praise of God, yet he still stops short of total commitment. He exalts God and says that He is above other gods, yet for old Nebuchadnezzar, God is still "their" God! He is softening, but he is still not broken before the Lord. It seems that by this point, Nebuchadnezzar has become just a little religious!

(Ill. Again, this could describe millions! They have come into contact with God. They have been made to face His reality and have seen His power. Still, they refuse to acknowledge Him as the Lord of their lives!)

C. Many, both saved and lost, fit the profile offered by these 2 chapters. The lost sinner is given light by the Lord and he sees that Jesus is the answer to the problem of sin. Yet, he remains indifferent to the Gospel call, preferring to indulge his sinful nature. He may even get a little religious when the heat is one, but it produces no change in their heart and life. There is no brokenness over sin and no repentance before God!

We see this same tragedy among those who claim Christ! Often, there is indifference to the word and will of God. The Christian can harden his heart to the place where he/she gets to the point that they will refuse to respond to what God says and only care about what they want. They act religious, but their hearts are hard as flint. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof!

(Ill. What is needed in both these cases is for people to stop hiding behind their sin and their religion. Men must come clean before God before there can be forgiveness and salvation.)

I. Nebuchadnezzar In His Power

II. Nebuchadnezzar In His Privilege


A. Nebuchadnezzar In The Place Of Blessing - (Ill. The context of this passage and Nebuchadnezzar's dream.) Nebuchadnezzar is told that he will be brought down, but that this judgment can be avoided by repentance and by turning to the Lord. However, it is apparent that Nebuchadnezzar chose his sin over the warnings of the Lord. By this time, his hard heart had ceased t be touched by the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar is walking totally in his price, v. 30-31.

(Ill. The greatness of Babylon and what he saw as he walked - The great walls of Babylon were 387 feet high and 87 feet thick. Each side of this great wall was 15 miles in length. They enclosed an area of 225 square miles. The walls were so wide that 4 chariots could be drive abreast on top of the wall and were on great race days. The mighty Euphrates river flowed through the middle of the city. On one bank were terraces, covered in rich greenery that led to a central altar. In the middle of the city was the massive temple of Bel with all its buildings and smaller temples and shrines. As Nebuchadnezzar looked on this great city, he could see the spacious gardens and orchards that fed the entire population of 2 million. As he walked he talked and in verse 30, he took credit for the whole thing. Completely forgetting the God of heaven who had said it would be so - 2:37-38. Nebuchadnezzar had also forgotten that the same God who promised to bless him also promised to break him! This man was walking in the sin of pride!)

(Ill. These events took a full year to come to pass - 4:29. Never mistake the patience and longsuffering of God for forgetfulness! He will always remember your sin, until it is taken care of at Calvary. You may feel that you are getting away with something today! You may think that nobody but God knows about your sin. If God knows, then it is enough! Your sin will catch up with you - Num. 32:23, "and be sure your sin will find you out."; Gal. 6:7, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.")

B. Nebuchadnezzar In The Place Of Brokenness - There are millions today who fit this pattern of life! They have had their hearts pricked by conviction and know they need to repent before the Lord, but in their pride, they chose to go on living as though God had absolutely no say in the matter. May I remind you that God knows exactly how to get your attention, (V. 31-33)!

(Ill. Nebuchadnezzar is afflicted with a disease now called "lycanthropy." This is a compound word from the words lycos, meaning wolf, and anthropos, meaning man. This mighty king was turned into a wild animal for 7 years by the word of the Lord! This man before whom millions trembled, is now reduced to a pathetic, wretched, ugly beast. He goes into this condition with the last words he heard being those of the judgment of God, v. 31-32.)

(Ill. As I said, God knows how to get your attention. He knows just what your heartstring is. There is a story in the Bible that demonstrates this truth very clearly - 2 Sam. 14:28-33. If you are too proud to humble yourself before the Lord in repentance, He will take whatever means are necessary to break you! This is especially true if you are one of His children and you are wandering around in sin - Heb. 12:6-12. If you refuse to submit to one form of brokenness, He will surely send another!)

(Ill. What will it take to break your heart and make you come to Christ for salvation? Christian, what will it take to break you and make you come fully clean before the Lord? God knows! He will not hesitate to use whatever means are necessary to break you!)

I. Nebuchadnezzar In His Power

II. Nebuchadnezzar In His Privilege

III. Nebuchadnezzar In His Pride


A. There Is A Realization - 34a - Nebuchadnezzar finally realizes that what he needs is a personal relationship with the God of the Hebrews. He realizes that God has been right all along. He realizes that he is a sinner and turns to the Lord in repentance.

(Ill. This is the place that many, whether saved or lost, need to come to today! When we reach that place of brokenness, whether it comes by means of a tragedy, or by our being intelligent enough to humble ourselves when God simply speaks, we will realize that God and His will are all that we need for our lives! Ill. Have you reached that place yet? Again, I ask you, what will it take?)

B. There Is A Reception - There is an obvious change in the attitude of Nebuchadnezzar. Before, he either ignored God or just gave Him mere lip service. Now, he begins to praise the Lord and to glorify God's works. This is a saved man! One day, when we get to Heaven, there will be a man there named Nebuchadnezzar! He will tell you that those 7 years of affliction were the single greatest blessing he ever received on this earth. It was those years that broke him and caused him to bow before the God of Heaven and receive Him into his life.)

(Ill. You can tell this man is right with God. He praises the Lord and renders all glory and honor to the God of Heaven! This is a sign of a truly broken heart.)

(Ill. Is this how you live your life before the Lord this morning? Can you honestly say, "Preacher, in everything I do, God is glorified and as far as I know, ever sin has been confessed to Him and I am broken and humble before the Lord?" If this isn't your life, then you need to come clean today!

Conc: Again, I ask you what is it going to take to break you before the Lord? We humans are a stubborn lot! We must be broken before we can ever be used of the Lord. He has many means of breaking men. What will it take in your life? Death? Sickness? Sorrow? Poverty? Exposure? What will it take? Instead of forcing God's hand, why not come to Him while He is still operating in longsuffering and grace? Why not come now, while He still calls gently to your heart? Why not bow and allow Him to break you with grace rather than judgment? The choice is yours, but the options seem pretty clear. What will it be for your life today? Where do you stand on the Pathway To Brokenness?

Sermon By Alan Carr

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