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Christmas at Waterloo

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A small country church had lovely Christmas tradition of staging a Living Nativity scene on the front lawn of their church. It became the talk of that small town.
A visitor from a big city was driving through town stopped and admired the performance, but something bothered him. The three wise men were carrying garden hoses, and they wore fire helmets.
The visitor couldn’t imagine why they were included in the nativity scene. He walked up to one of the church ladies and asked this question.
“Why the fire hoses and helmets on the three wise men?” he asked.
The church lady shook her head in disgust and replied, “You City Folks just don’t read the Bible!”
The visitor told her he had read the story many times but couldn’t recall anything about firemen in the Bible.
The lady pulled her Bible out from under her arm and riffled through the pages, finally jabbing her finger at one particular passage. Putting the Bible right up in his face she said:
“See, city boy, it says right here, ‘The three wise men came from afar…’ ”
We have been in a series called “No Eye Has Seen”. Our primary verse has been:
1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT
9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
I want to spend some time talking about God’s sovereignty.
Sovereignty refers to dominant power or supreme authority. In a monarchy, supreme power resides in the "sovereign", or king. In modern democracies, sovereign power rests with the people and is exercised through representative bodies such as Congress or Parliament.
The Sovereign is the one who exercises power without limitation.
God is sovereign over everything. The scriptures confirm that God is without limitation.
Colossians 1:16 NLT
16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.
or
Jeremiah 32:17 NLT
17 “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!
God is great and worthy of our praise and adoration. He is greater than any earthly king, politician, celebrity, or military leader. There is none greater.
Revelation 4:11 NLT
11 “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”
God is Sovereign.
This should give us comfort. Comfort because God is not like men who desire power and authority to prove their strength and power. God is sovereign and looks on people with love and compassion.
When we read our key scripture we take heart in the fact that God in His sovereignty has prepares good things for those who love Him. What an amazing thought, that God who created everything and knows the details of the entire universe, cares for each soul.
This thought should humble us. We should be thankful and grateful to such amazing grace.
Yet our nature is corrupt. Humanity is constantly trying to usurp the sovereignty of God. Power and Pride corrupts the heart of man.
For over two decades a defiant, cocky man by the name of Napoleon created turmoil in Europe. Despite only being 5 feet 2 inches, he caused great trouble for all the people around him. In a bid to regain some of the power he had lost due to a forced exile, Napoleon led his armies in a swath of devastation across the battlefields of Europe.
On June 18, 1815, Napoleon and his armies faced the allied armies of England, Prussia, Russia, Austria, Belgium and The Netherlands, led by the Duke of Wellington.
This was the infamous Battle of Waterloo.
Before the battle started Napoleon, speaking to of his commanding officer, said “We will put the infantry here, the cavalry over there, and the artillery in that spot. At the end of the day, England will be at the feet of France, and Wellington will be the prisoner of Napoleon.
The officer responded, “But, we must not forget that man proposes and God disposes.
With his typical arrogance, Napoleon stood as straight and as tall as his 5-foot-two-inch frame would allow and replied, “I want you to understand, sir, that Napoleon proposes and Napoleon disposes!
Victor Hugo, the writer, wrote these words concerning that battle,
From that moment Waterloo was lost, for God sent rain and hail so that the troops of Napoleon could not maneuver as he had planned, and on the night of the battle it was Napoleon who was prisoner of Wellington, and France who was at the feet of England.”
Pride will convince us that we have all the answers and that we know better than our Sovereign God.
Christmas is coming and it’s a time that can either remind us of the sovereignty of God or the sovereignty of our pride.
There’s a battle building in the weeks to come. We are all going to face a Waterloo moment this Christmas. Are we going to remember that man proposes and God disposes or are we going to be like Napoleon and pridefully forget that God is Sovereign.
Our main focus in scripture will be Daniel 4:28-34 today. It deals with this issue of sovereignty and I believe it will help us keep our focus on what matters most as we prepare for the end of the year.
Daniel 4:28–34 NLT
28 “But all these things did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. 30 As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’ 31 “While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. 32 You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’ 33 “That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws. 34 “After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal.

Power Comes from God

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.
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!
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 we have and are today!
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.
This could picture any of the billions of lost people on this globe today. They have life, emotion and intellect, but they are dead to God and to spiritual issues - that’s why we read in:
Ephesians 2:1 NLT
1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.
People take life for granted. They ignore God and His plan of salvation. They march stubbornly on to Hell where eternal separation from God awaits everyone of them.
We may be in control of our lives, but if we die without Jesus and end up in Hell, what have we accomplished?
Mark 8:36–37 NLT
36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul?
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 deceiving themselves! They are certainly not humble and broken before the Lord.
Nebuchadnezzar, and the billions of others just like him, refuse to acknowledge God in their lives.
He thought he had power, but really God was and is the only one who is ALL POWERFUL. God is sovereign.

God Gives Free Will to All People

We can forget that God is powerful because He has given us free will.
In other words, we have been given the God given right to chose the path we will take through this world.
It will either be a path that brings glory to the Lord, or it will be a pathway of shame. 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!
Nebuchadnezzar came face to face with God in his interaction with Daniel in chapter 2 when Daniel interpreted a dream that came from God.
Daniel 2:28 NLT
28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.
He received great light and had the opportunity to turn to the God. But that’s not what he did…He worshipped Daniel - the one who interpreted a dream - not the one who GAVE the dream!
If you read chapter 2 you’ll find that he went so far to say that God was just one God among many others. After he experienced the light of God, his heart was still hardened against the things of God. He was simply indifferent!
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! We must 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 songs sung and no love of God drawing you unto Himself. Do not make the same mistake as Nebuchadnezzar, but turn from sin and run to Jesus for salvation.

God Will Humble the Proud

In Daniel chapter 4 Nebuchadnezzar is told that he will be brought down, but that this judgment can be avoided by repentance and by turning to the Lord.
Nebuchadnezzar chose his sin over the warnings of the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar is walking totally in his pride.
Daniel 4:30 NLT
30 As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’
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 side by side on top of the wall. The Euphrates river flowed through the middle of the city. On one bank were terraces, covered in 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.
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!
We must Never mistake the patience of God for forgetfulness! He will always remember our 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!
Numbers 32:23 NLT
23 But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.
or
Galatians 6:7 NLT
7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.
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.
God knows exactly how to get our attention:
Daniel 4:31–33 NLT
31 “While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. 32 You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’ 33 “That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.
This mighty king was turned into a wild animal for 7 years! 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.
God knows how to get our attention. Why would God want to get our attention. Why would a God good allow us to go through hardship - why would He punish us if He is so good?
Hebrews 12:6–12 NLT
6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” 7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. 12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.
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! Because He loves you.
Pride is no obstacle for God. It’s best to deal with it before He does.

God is Faithful

Daniel 4:34 NLT
34 “After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal.
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.
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!
Guess what happens when we turn to God? He is faithful.
1 John 1:9 NLT
9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
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 changed man!
Maybe one day, when we get to Heaven, there will be a man there named Nebuchadnezzar.
He will tell the story 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.
How can you tell that this King was right with God that day?
He humbled himself and praised the Lord. He gave all glory and honor to the God of Heaven! This is a sign of a truly broken heart.
Where are we at this morning?
Can you honestly say, “in everything I do, God is glorified, I am broken and humble before the Lord?”
If this isn’t your life, then you need to come clean today!
It’s almost Christmas. Christmas should remind us of the great love of God. That He gave the great gift of His son to set us free from sin and death if we believe on Him.
We need to have Christmas at Waterloo this year. Napoleon had all the strategic plans for battle. He was in charge. He knew what he wanted to happen. But he was defeated. His plans were out the window. He had to surrender. There was a greater force that took him out.
Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t facing a battle against enemies, but he was battling pride, power, and God’s sovereignty. He was humbled. He surrendered.
We need to surrender. Make no mistake - We will lose the battles that are against God’s will. God is Sovereign. He will get His way. We are NOT more powerful than God. All creation is moving closer to a day of judgement. He is Lord of all creation. Don’t mistake patience for indifference. God does care and will not wait forever.
We must take a lesson from the life of Napoleon and Nebuchadnezzar. Pride, power, and privilege can lead to downfall. Being surrendered to God is what can set us free.
What’s interesting is the Napoleon never did find humility. After he was made to surrender at waterloo he never really acknowledged the defeat. If you read quotes from him in exile they are almost comical. He is blaming everyone but himself. He even criticized his enemy for being weak! Even though that “weak” enemy was strong enough to defeat him.
He never found peace. He died from stomach cancer at the age of 51.
To give some credit to Nebuchadnezzar. He did the wrong things. He was prideful. But when he was humbled he recognized that God was sovereign. When he did, he was restored.
What battles are you facing today? What is your Waterloo? Maybe it’s time to raise the flag of surrender and allow God to set you free.

Christmas at Waterloo

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