Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: FCF: God is in control. If things seem out of control, maybe it is because somebody else thinks they’re able to take God’s place.

We’re going to begin looking at Daniel 2 for the next three weeks, because it does a wonderful job of teaching us something so fundamental: How to talk to God. As Christians, each and every one of us is blessed with direct line to God himself. It’s almost magical to think about that fact. But I know in my life that sometimes I have a hard time making the most of that. Well, this story that we have in Daniel 2 shows us the right way to talk to God, and so I want to learn from it how best to exercise my right to talk straight to him.

Briefly, I’ll tell you where I’m going. This week, I want to look just at the introduction to the story. We’re going to see how not to talk God. He’s not magic. Next week, we’re going to see how Daniel was able to talk to God because he realized the most important point: God is a person. He’s not in our control, He’s God. And then we’re going to end with the actual dream Daniel interpreted, and see this. God is in control. These elements are central to our prayer lives, and so I want to spend some time looking at it. I would encourage you, this afternoon, to sit down and read just this one chapter of Daniel – Daniel 2.

But before we get to the point of seeing that our God is in control, we need to see who isn’t. We need to see that the gods we set up in our own lives are not. This morning, I want to direct your attention, not to Daniel but rather to the magicians and the astrologers and the soothsayers who were pretending to be gods: the ones who were passing themselves as gods. The type of god I fear you and I can delude ourselves into becoming.

The story itself is simple enough. You’ll remember Daniel wanting to be God’s servant. He’s in Babylon, and despite his unwillingness to buy into their system, he has been swept into it. Well, that whole system is about to get a shock.

You see, King Nebuchadnezzar is going to have a dream. Dreams are very important to Babylonians. They thought each and every one of them had their own god who would communicate to them through dreams. They thought their dreams were gifts and they were to use them. Well, King Nebuchadnezzar gets this ‘gift,’ and it scares him. And so, he calls for his wise men. But then something happens. Either he can’t or won’t remember it.

So he tells wise men: I need your help. I need you to tell me my dream. But I need to know something. I need to know I can trust you. So, guys, I have a little test for you. I’ll listen to your interpretation of my dream, but you need to tell me that dream first. Oh, and just to give you some incentive – if you don’t? I’ll kill you.

We don’t know why. Like I said, he may have forgotten, he may have just lost faith in his astrologers, his magicians. This was no Nancy Reagan we were talking about – this was a man who wanted to test the magic. Back in those days, magicians were like the scientists of our day. They had access to the “secret” knowledge, the mysteries. They were the ones with the power and the control.

But sometimes it takes someone in power to expose how shallow that power is. Around 1900, Harry Houdini was a magician who excelled at his craft. But he was also a scientist. For him, those great escapes were nothing but an act. He was one of the first magicians to show people what happened behind the curtain. Like Nebuchadnezzar, he would test the magicians. Like Nebuchadnezzar, he wanted to believe, but he simply knew too much to fall the tricks and sleight of hand that passed for magic.

At the turn of our century, the big trick was for ‘spiritualists’ to communicate with the dead. They’d put on quite a show and tell people what they wanted to hear. But being a magician, Harry Houdini knew how to pull back the curtain. He could show up their tricks. You know, for a long time he had a standing bet. He’d give anybody $5000 in 1900s money if they could only prove they were talking with the dead. But nobody every collected while he was alive. You see, magic doesn’t work. As Christians, we need to understand that we do not believe in magic. We don’t believe that if you pray some special words or send in some special ‘seed money’ or any such nonsense that God is going to do our special bidding.

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