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Miranda Writes: Say Uncle! Part 2




by Omar Miranda



Last week we began talking about the importance of submission and obedience to God as the way to gain power for a successful Christian life. We learned that both submission (attitude of obedience) and obedience were necessary to live an effective and successful Christian life. This week we’ll finish up our time discussing a sad but important story in the Bible that has to do with one knucklehead who decided to learn about submission to God the hard way.

This story illustrates what happens when somebody consistently doesn’t submit to God. It’s found in Daniel 4, and it’s an amazing story of King Nebuchadnezzar—King Nebbi, for short. It’s incredible to think about the ways God chooses to get people’s attention. I hope you’ll read this, learn, change, and choose never to get this far away from God that you need this kind of wake-up call.

Before you read this story, there’s something that you have to understand about King Nebbi and his culture: they ascribed the status of a god to their king. And as with anything, if you hear something enough times, you begin to believe it (that’s why you’ve got to be careful about your media choices—but that’s a topic for another time). So King Nebbi began to believe that he was a god.

God said in the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3, NKJV).¹ And we read in Scripture that God isn’t in the business of sharing His glory with other gods. These are important facts to remember as we consider the lessons and principles of the story in Daniel 4. Read it for yourself, and then we’ll discuss what we can learn from Nebbi’s mistakes. 

Have you read it? Good. So what’s the point of this story? That we are to give honor and glory to no one other than God. We are to recognize that by His hand He created all things, controls all things, and gives us our very breath and heartbeat! God does not mind if we admire beauty and power, but He wants us to give Him all the credit. After all, He rightfully deserves it. By doing this, we are submitting to His authority and not our own.

I believe that King Nebbi learned his lesson and learned true humility. Just the fact that he was able to write this information down gives evidence of this. I find it interesting that even after having been clearly warned by God through the prophet Daniel of what would happen if he didn’t change his ways, King Nebbi still went down the path of pride. Now, it took 12 months until he did it, which shows us our first principle: You and I must choose every day to submit to God, and we must remain vigilant that we don’t stray off of the path into our taking credit for the good things in our lives. It all comes from God and belongs to God, and He can choose to give it and take it away at any time.

The apostle Paul, in Acts 26:14, when telling the story of his conversion, relates that Jesus said to him: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (NKJV). What are goads? Well, for the most part, they’re like the spurs that cowboys wear. Goads are sharp pieces of metal, stone, or wood that are used to get stubborn animals to do what the owner wants them to do. Are you catching the relevance of this issue to your life? Have you ever done something in your life that caused God to need to use a “goad” to get your attention? Instead of God having to do that to us, wouldn’t it just be easier for us to submit willingly? It would be easier, we’d live longer, and we’d be happier.

It took seven years for King Nebbi to finally humble himself and submit to God! The Bible says that after seven years, Nebbi prayed, and when he did, his “mind was healed” (Daniel 4:34, CEV).² In other words, he had lost his mind before he finally humbled himself! Now, what happens when your mind is sick? All kinds of stuff: anxiety, depression, hallucinations, delusions, and other mental health problems. Remember, we’re not talking the brain. For the most part, your brain is about a three-and-a-half-pound organ the consistency of soft cheese; your brain controls your body. Your mind, on the other hand, determines and controls your character and personality, your emotions and your will and choices. Your mind generally controls and affects those things about you that are untouchable.

You might be thinking, Seven years? Come on, that seems a little extreme for someone to keep living like a wild animal and not to recognize that God is in charge. Oh really? I wish I would have gotten it after only seven years—it took me longer than that.  And I’m sure some of you know people who have been living crazy, out-of-control lives longer than that. Maybe that person is you!

Let me tell you something—when a person continues to live out of control and apart from God, their own sin nature, the world, and the devil begin to take over their mind. When that happens, people lose their sense and their conscience (which is from God), and they begin to do more and more strange, evil, and twisted things. They are living only for themselves; they have placed their own needs, wants, and desires above everybody else. The Bible says a lot about this in Romans 1:21-32. Read it and we’ll talk about it.

This passage of Scripture describes people who refuse to recognize that God is in charge even in the midst of overwhelming proof, and so God steps back and allows their evil, selfish, violent, sadistic, deranged, sick, and twisted minds and lives to follow the only natural direction they can go without God: straight down. Charles Darwin, the father of the theory of evolution, was totally wrong . . . as human beings, we naturally become worse, not better.

Does this sound like anybody you know? I certainly hope not. I definitely hope this doesn’t describe you. Would you say that this is the kind of culture that we are living in today? A culture that worships individuality with shows such as American Idol and The Voice. We live in a “me first,” “if it feels good do it” culture that says, “I want it all,” and “I’m going to take care of me!” How sad it must be for people who don’t acknowledge that God is in control of it all and then order their lives around that. They will never find true love, joy, or peace. That’s why they continue to spin out of control. Remember, the Bible tells us that the payment for sin is death.

Psalm 36:1-4 says: “Sinners don’t respect God; sin is all they think about. They like themselves too much to hate their own sins or even to see them. They tell deceitful lies, and they don’t have the sense to live right. Those people stay awake, thinking up mischief, and they follow the wrong road, refusing to turn from sin” (CEV). This passage paints a picture of somebody just lying in their bed, nervously wringing their hands, and thinking about what kind of progressively evil and perverse things they will do tomorrow. YIKES! Take a cue from King Nebbi and don’t go there.

You would think that this lesson would be learned, remembered, and followed by all. Remember, Nebuchadnezzar wrote his life experiences in a letter and sent it to all the people in his entire kingdom—which was basically a large majority of the world! It seems to me that this was an important lesson—in many respects the most important one we as humans need to learn. But oh, how sinful and selfish we are as humans! We continue to experience God’s mercy, grace, protection, and love every day, and we ignore it; we sin consistently and boldly right in front of God! God help us to understand the lesson that King Nebuchadnezzar finally understood.

So what’s it going to be? What will you choose? Will you choose to honor yourself above God and live a miserable, out-of-control life full of selfishness, pain, and passing pleasure—and then die? Or will you choose to humble yourself before God and recognize that He’s in charge, order your life accordingly, then live a life of joy, peace, and contentment both here and in the world to come—and never die! The choice is yours. Take it from me and Nebbi—you’re much better off living life with God than without Him.
 
Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

¹Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
²Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.


 





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