Summary: Self-help exercises for developing a promising future, based on Daniel chapter two.
A friend of mine was recently given a business card from a "minister" who came into his store. It read:
"Rev. ________, Associated Minister
Rev. ________, a prophet of Jesus Christ, healer, and miracle worker: will bring marriages together, destroy devils, bring loved ones home from prison.
A good love offering required - $300 or more."
For all we know this man’s heart may be in the right place and his technique may just be unorthodox (to say the least), but I couldn’t help but think when I looked at the card, that some folks would actually be desperate and naive enough to give him a call.
Who do you call on when the dreams of your life seem to be slipping away?
Daniel chapter two provides insight on where to go (and where not to go) for help. Here are some guidelines to follow.
1. Beware godless counsel. (Daniel 2:1-9)
Daniel chapter two records the story of how the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar became a nightmare for his wise men. He called them all together and demanded they interpret his dream. Just once catch - they also had to reveal what the dream was about without any clues from the dreamer.
The king of ancient Babylonia sounds like a lot of people today who are fed up with the empty showmanship of the "experts". Many counselors are "clouds without rain" (Jude 12), who look impressive, but offer no lasting relief to the parched soul.
Babylon’s ancient psychological association was, for the most part, made up of members who did not know God. (Daniel and his friends excluded.) They could manipulate information - but in this classic case - they weren’t given any information to manipulate. They made a living deceiving the king and his court by coming up with impressive sounding interpretations of events that seemed to indicate they possessed special wisdom.
God’s Word warns us to stay clear of these types of counselors because, "In their greed these teachers will exploit you." (2 Peter 2:3 NIV)
Nebuchadnezzar was tired of being exploited. We can’t blame him for the way he put his advisors to the test. He was tired of people making up stuff to impress him. If they could produce the goods by telling him what he had dreamed, then he would know he could trust their counsel.
Jesus Himself warned us that in the last days there would be a proliferation of peddlers of pretense and that many would be deceived by them. (Mt. 24:11,24)
If you’re like the king in our scripture today you may be tired of the modern charlatans - those who dispense placebos like: parapsychology, psychic surgery and astrology. [According to one study done by the Roper Organization for Public Opinion magazine, 7% of Americans admit to changing their behavior or plans on the basis of an astrology report - 7% represents as many as 12 million adults!]
Josh McDowell and Don Stewart in their book, "Handbook of Today’s Religions", list many of the vain spiritual avenues people are traveling to find help. Among them are: new truth; new interpretation of scripture; a non-biblical source of authority; another Jesus; rejection of orthodox Christianity; double talk (people who talk about Jesus but not the same Jesus represented in the New Testament); and salvation by works.
Whatever the attraction of these snake oil salesmen, the thinking individual must realize that the message can be packaged any way we like, but if it’s not from God it will eventually fail us.
The majority of us wouldn’t fall prey to the salesmanship of the world’s magicians. We’re not superstitious. We don’t even believe in luck. So how do we come under the spell of these worldly counselors?
For one, we all hurt sometimes. And when we hurt the human tendency is to grab the fastest pain reliever advertised. Instead, we should exercise caution in swallowing all that Madison Avenue, Hollywood, and the "intellectual" scientists and historians tell us.
Madison Avenue tells us, "If you’re hurting, spend your way out of it. There’s nothing that money and material things can’t buy, including happiness."
Hollywood says, "When you hurt you need pleasure and amusement, just have fun and cast off all restraint."
The psuedo-intellectual says, "Reason your way out of trouble. Pay no attention to spiritual things as they are only the work of man’s imagination." Many of these folks believe the Bible is antiquated, incorrect, and irrelevant. It offers no help because it doesn’t coincide with their godless presuppositions. (See 2 Peter 3:3-5)
Learn from a man who had heard it all. King Nebuchadnezzar had experienced the trappings of materialism, pleasure, and intellectual pursuits. He had his fill of worldly philosphies and they left him empty. His heart ached and his head throbbed for someone to help him understand what life was all about and point him in a right direction for the future.