Control Freak “You say that like it’s a bad thing”
Many people like to be in control of their lives and they do all they can to control what happens in their daily lives either for themselves or their loved ones. Many sleepless nights and worrying have happened to people because they worry about things that are out of their control. Christians should be the calmest people on the planet because our trust is in a God who is in control and even if this life does not go the way we want we know that it is only temporary compared to our eternal home.
Nebuchadnezzar, who was a control freak, realizes in our story today that he is not in control of his future and the future of his kingdom and it really bothered him to the point of not being able to sleep. He starts to think about the future of the Kingdom he established and how one day he will have to let all of it go as he passes away. He wants to have control over something that he cannot have control over and that is the future and a future that he will not be around to see. Control is a problem for many of us but God calls us to trust in Him.
As you go through the story today see if there are areas in your life that you are trying to control instead of trusting God to handle. We can all be a little control freakish when it comes to our lives and because we try to control instead of trust we have many sleepless nights and waste energy worrying.
Read Daniel 2:1-13
Some say that the dream he was having was happening over and over again and some say that he had the dream and it bothered him so much that he kept thinking about it. Nebuchadnezzar is surrounded by people who said they could predict the future by looking at the stars and so he put them to a test that they were not prepared for by having them not only interpret the dream but to actually tell Nebuchadnezzar what the dream was about. Of course we know this is just God getting ready to prove to the King and everyone else who is involved that there is only one true God.
The first glimpse in this passage that we get is a problem that many, if not all of us, face and that is our own immortality. One day we are all going to die no matter how long we live or how healthy we are. One thing we are not in control of is when we leave this earth.
When you try to Control:
1) Demand Your Way
The astrologers answered, there is not a man on earth who can do what the King ask”
When you try and control your life you inadvertently put demands on other people. The reason for that is you think that by demanding things from them that you can control your own life. The problem with control freaks is that it does not matter how much you are able to give them it will never be enough because their demands will increase. When you try and control your life you in turn control others and so the people you are surrounded with are your problem and your solution to a happy life in your mind.
Nebuchadnezzar wanted something from them that they could not give and they could not convince him that what he was asking was impossible. Control freaks always ask for the impossible and when you do not give them what they want they become angry with you.
Nebuchadnezzar relied on superstition and fortune tellers to make decisions and to be in control of his life. Although most people do not believe they are superstitious about life if you listen carefully they will say things that show you that they are doing things to control their life. I have met many Christians who will sit on the same spot on the couch thinking it will help their favorite sports team. Other Christians say “Knock on Wood” when they talk about something good that might happen. Ancient people believed that evil spirts lived in trees and to scare them away they would hit the tree. This is where our custom of “knocking on wood” comes from – to hope that bad things won’t happen. You must knock on wood 3 times after mentioning good fortune or the evil spirits will ruin things for you.
Nebuchadnezzar was a control freak who was superstitious and so he wanted his wise men to give him what they could not which was what the future would look like.
2) Get Angry Easily
“If you do not tell me my dream I will have you cut into pieces and destroy your houses.
Control freaks show burst of anger because they want things to go their way and when it doesn’t go the way they think or the way they planned then those around them suffer. Punishment is a favorite tool of control freaks and they will punish you in some way to make sure you do not get out of line with them again. These were not just any men that Nebuchadnezzar was threatening these were men that have been by his side, and from what we know have served him faithfully and to the best of their ability. You may have had people you called friends who turned on you because you did not do things their way. It is the control freaks that are the ones who demonstrate an anger toward anyone, even close friends, who do not do exactly what they say.
If you are punishing others because you do not get your way than you are a control freak. You may not threaten physical harm like Nebuchadnezzar but you might delete them from your face book or block them from you Instagram account as a way of trying to punish them. Even worse you may go around and say bad things about them damaging their relationships with others as a way to destroy them socially.
The guard comes to get Daniel because apparently Daniel was not at the initial meeting with Nebuchadnezzar and therefore Daniel was clueless about what was going on. Daniel was either not invited because he was a younger wise man or he had not totally finished his training that he was under. This seemed to going to be a public execution and the guards had begun to round up all of the King’s wise men from around the Nation. Control freaks cause chaos and destruction because of their anger and they do not realize the long term destruction they cause others and their families.
3) Use Manipulation
“But if you tell me the dream and explain it then you will receive gifts and honor”
Manipulation is just another form of control over an individual. When you use manipulation to get your way the main thing you are trying to achieve is getting people to do what you want. Gifts that are given to get something in return are not gifts but only a way of controlling others. Nebuchadnezzar realizes in his rage that he needs to also be the kind and loving King who will be looked upon in a favorable way. Control Freaks can seem like the best people in the world to many who are not involved with them on a personal basis but there manipulation and control will wear on you when you see past why they give you the gifts that they give you.
Control freaks will say “If you do this I will love you” but when you don’t they bad mouth you to others. Control freaks will use their manipulation and control on others to destroy you as well. You may have had friends who all of a sudden started not liking you and you could not figure out what you did to them. Just like Nebuchadnezzar had others carry out his commands to destroy the wise men of the nation control freaks will manipulate others to destroy you.
Control issues effect every relationship we have, marriages, children, friends, co workers and church members are all effected by control issues we have in our lives. We have to learn to trust God in all of our circumstances instead of using anger and manipulation to get what we want in life.
Read Daniel 2:14-16
When you trust that God is in control:
We now get to Daniel who was not aware of what was going on and found out through a guard about why Nebuchadnezzar was having all the wise men killed. The way the passage is written is that Daniel does not show any panic, fear or worry when he is told that he is going to die. Daniel seems to trust God fully even when his own life might be destroyed and it is a lesson we can all learn from this passage.
Daniel answers with prudence and discretion and simply asks to be brought to the King to ask for more time in order to answer the Kings question. If Daniel would have asked in the wrong manner, like most of us do, he may have lost his life immediately but because he had trust in God he was calm and thought clearly in how to address those he was dealing with.
1) There Is No Panic
Philippians 4:5-6 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:5-6 uses the word reasonableness which means to have sound judgement. When you panic you lose your sound judgment and really start having crazy thoughts which leads to more panic and bad decision making. We can have sound judgement because as the verse says ” the Lord is at Hand” or better way to translate that is to say, The Lord is here. Most Christians forget what they know about God and the stories we have been taught in His word when a crisis occurs. God has shown Himself faithful repeatedly and we have to rely on what we know about God and trust Him for the outcomes in our lives.
Read Daniel 2:17-19
2) Prayer Is A Priority
When you think you are in control then you think you have to fix everything by your own wisdom and abilities but when you trust that God is in control then you go to Him for wisdom and guidance. Most people are act now and pray later but Daniel was all about praying first and then seeing which direction he should go. How much heartache and anxiousness could we avoid if we would go to God first ?
Daniel and his friends prayed till God showed them the answer they needed. How many times do we give a flippant prayer to God instead of praying earnestly and for long period of times about certain issues. Yes we do not always have days to pray but on most decisions we do and yet we do not take the time to fully pray. Also do not miss that Daniel went to his friends and asked them to pray with him. This shows that Daniel knew he needed other believers in God to be with him in prayer. We are not supposed to carry our burdens alone but so many of us do because we do not ask others to come alongside of us and pray.
Matthew 18:19-20 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
See Also James 5:16
Why do we need to pray? Daniel does several things in these next few passages of scripture that give us an outline of the why we need to stop doing and start praying.
Read Daniel 2:20-23
A) Pray because: God deserves our praise
How many times do we ask God for something and then when He answers it we forget to thank Him? In Luke 17:11-19 Jesus heals 10 Lepers but only one returned to Him to offer Jesus praise. If we pray for no other reason then it is to give praise to the one who has already saved us from the pit of destruction by dying on the cross for our sins.
B) Pray Because: God Has Wisdom and Power
Control freaks do not like to acknowledge that they do not have the wisdom or the power but Daniel knew that God has and is both of these things. We hunt and search and ask many people for wisdom but God is the one who knows everything. Wisdom here means something that only God attains and therefore we can only have it if He reveals it to us.
We need to learn to pray to God for our marriages, our children and our businesses. When is the last time you sought God for the profession you are in? Maybe Daniel remembered the story of Joseph and how he was able to interpret dreams in Genesis 41 and so he knew to seek God for the wisdom he needed. Daniel knew that what the king was asking were impossible by human standards because they were matters that relied on the Spirit of God to be revealed to him.
1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Nebuchadnezzar could not understand the dream that he had because he did not have the wisdom of God to understand it. All the magicians and astrologers could not discern what God was up to because they did not have what it takes to discern it because they did not have the spirit of God. They could not unlock the revelation from God because they did not have the ability. Daniel was able to not only tell the Kings dream but also what it meant because the Spirit of God revealed it to him. This is why we have to stop expecting the rest of the world to understand spiritual matters because they won’t until they give their lives to Christ and He fills them with His Spirit.
C) Pray Because: God is in Control
Read Daniel 2:24-30
He sets up the Kings and gets rid of them.
God is not worried about any election or any ruler in the world because God is the one who put them there in the first place. The plain teaching of this passage is that God knows and places every ruler in charge for reasons that go beyond our understanding. We may not understand how God can use an evil King but we have to acknowledge that scripture teaches us that God is the reason they are in charge. We can praise God because He is in control of every area of life even the parts that do not make sense to us like an evil leader being in charge.
The reason we do not pray is because either we want to be in control or we do not think God really is. If I asked you if God was in control, every one of you would say yes but we do not live that way
3) Experience Peace in Decision Making
What would it be like if you knew every decision you made was the right one? No matter how many critics or opinions about what you should do, you have a guarantee that you are making the right decision when you seek God for wisdom in your decision making.
Daniel could have been walking into his death sentence if what he told the King was not what the King had dreamed but Daniel walked with confidence knowing God had showed him the truth. Remember the King told no one about his dream and the circumstances surrounding it so what Daniel was getting ready to tell the King could not be made up or embellished but only revealed by God. Daniel was quick to let the King know that no one in the palace could tell him his dream and not even Daniel but only God, the true God, revealed it to him. Not only did Daniel have confidence in what he was going to say to the king but Arioch also had confidence in Daniel and took credit for finding Daniel.
Daniel starts off by not just telling the dream (vision) but exactly where the King was and what he was doing. As Christians when we relinquish control of our lives and give it to God we can trust Him for the direction He is taking us. Daniel spoke with confidence to a King who could kill him on the spot because he prayed and God had directed his steps.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Daniel could not lean on his own understanding because absolutely nothing was revealed to him by the King. The problem is we do not trust the Lord because we are leaning on our own understanding trying to piece together the things of life that make sense to us.
Are you still trying to figure out every area of your life without God? Are you worried about things that you have no control over? Have you prayed about your marriage, your children or even your profession? You can trust God and when you do then you will be less panicked and worried. Learn from Daniel that through prayer God will guide every decision you make but make sure you go back and praise Him for what He has done, His sovereignty over life and all the He is going to do.