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We Have a Control Issue

January 19, 2012

I remember the first remote control car that I got when I was a kid.  I remember seeing it on a commercial…I remember seeing it on the shelf at the store…and I remember, vividly, the Christmas morning when that thing was parked underneath our Christmas tree.  It was the “Bandit” truck…and it was awesome…and with the remote control in my hands (assuming that the battery was charged)…I was in complete control.

 I hope you’ll take just a moment and read through Daniel 3.  Even if you know the story…like even if you have parts of it memorized…give it a read and see what God might show you.

 Nebuchadnezzar is a man who wields a great deal of control over his people.  Even in this text, particularly in verses 2 and 3, it’s abundantly clear that when he calls them to come…the people come.  People do what he tells them to do.  If you’ve followed this study of the Book of Daniel, you know that Nebuchadnezzar fancies himself as more than just a man…he believes, at a minimum, that he is one of many gods.  So the question we must ask, in light of this false god exerting such control over its people, is simple.  What’s controlling you?  Is it your desires, like lust and ambition?  Is it other people?  Is it your girlfriend or boyfriend…or maybe the reality that at present you find yourself without one of those?  Is it fear, uncertainty, doubt, anger, laziness…is it complacency?  So often, when we’re honest, we find ourselves not answering the call of God, but falling over ourselves to do the will of our own little Nebuchadnezzar’s.

 And just to follow that.  Isn’t it always the case that our counterfeit gods always take beautiful things and turn them into terrible things?  Nebuchadnezzar hijacks music.  It’s not one particular song…it’s any song…played on any instrument.  This plays out for us as well.  So sex becomes pornography, food becomes gluttony, and stories become idle gossip.  When we make created things into ultimate things…we rob them of their beauty…and empower them to destroy us.  They drive us just like that little boy with his remote control car…right into a pine tree.

 The part of the story we all know is the fiery furnace.  What Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did was seek a life of holiness.  They weren’t grandstanding.  They weren’t out their picketing the image that had been built.  They were seeking to maintain what I would call in our day, “a consistent Christian ethic.”  And so here’s the next thing.  If you are walking with Christ…if you are pursuing holiness…there will be some collisions.  You’re going to stand out.  People won’t have to lie about you (the Chaldeans didn’t)…you’ll just stand out. 

 So Nebuchadnezzar has them tossed into the furnace.  It says that he was, “filled with fury.”  But what happens?  God shows up.  And that’s really the last point I would make today.  And it’s not so much that God shows up…but that He is always there.  There are going to be some floods in life.  You’ll get swept up in family, and school, and your career.  And listen…there will be some fires…nobody gets out of this thing completely unscathed.  But the faith that we see demonstrated in this passage isn’t conditioned upon an easy ride.  Our boys had faith that God was “able” to save them…and they certainly hoped that He would.  On that day, God got into the fire with them.  Isaiah 43:2-3 offers a word from the Creator on this.  It says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”  (Why?  Why won’t it consume you?)  “For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  (That’s why.)  That’s my hope…what’s yours?

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