The U.S. energy markets received major bearish surprises in the latest weekly inventory reports. The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that U.S. crude oil inventories increased by 14.2 million barrels for the week ending February 3—the second largest weekly inventory increase in history. The report was confirmed the next day by the Energy Information Administration (EIA)'s report, which showed a weekly increase of 13.8 million barrels (compared to 6.8 million barrels the previous week). U.S. oil rig counts were 741 units compared to 729 the previous week. North American rig counts were 1,093 versus 1,070 a week ago.
Large crude oil inventories and increasing rig counts are worrisome for the industry. But declining gasoline demand is a bigger issue. U.S. gasoline demand has trended sharply downward since late last summer. U.S. demand has been averaging about 8.3 million barrels per day—about 6 percent below year-ago levels. Six percent is a huge amount. is it because of more efficient cars? Is it because of an older population? Is the consumer economizing? The answer is likely a combination of these factors.
Energy provides power to the economy. Current abundant supplies of crude oil suggest that power will be available at reasonable prices for the economy to maintain and grow. Geopolitical factors could change this projection quickly, but current conditions are bullish.
In the kingdom of God, we have unlimited energy and power. From physics, we know energy is the capacity to perform work. Power is the rate at which energy is transferred. The joule is the metric unit for energy. One calorie is 4.18 joules. One stick of dynamite releases 20 billion joules of energy. Our sun releases 4 X 1024 joules of energy each year. We know of hundreds of billions of stars (suns). The Bible says they are without number. The same creative power that created the stars resides in us via the Holy Spirit. We have unlimited energy and power.
After His baptism, the Scripture says Jesus was "filled" with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit then led Him around in the wilderness for forty days where He was tempted by the devil. After He successfully overcame all the temptations of the devil, He returned to Galilee in the "power" of the Spirit. Do you suppose that the example of Jesus was telling us to be able to move in the power of the Spirit, we need to overcome the temptations of the devil (Luke 4:1, 14)?
The life of Peter provides further insight. Before Pentecost, Peter was impetuous. He stepped out of the boat to meet Jesus but took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink (Matt. 14:29-30). When Jesus was accosted in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter was the one who took out his sword and stuck the ear of the high priest's servant (Luke 22:50). But before the night was over, he had denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:60-62).
After Pentecost, Peter was bold as a lion. The world's first megachurch was born with his first sermon. He then healed a beggar born lame and gave a sermon to the excited crowd that was bold enough to get him arrested (Acts 2-3).
Facing the same men who had tried Jesus two months earlier, Peter and John proclaimed, "... we cannot help but declare what we have seen and heard." Upon release, he joined his companions and prayed for boldness (the weakness that had earlier caused him to deny the Lord). After they had prayed, the place was shaken, and Scripture says they were filled with the Spirit. Since this was after Pentecost, they must have been refilled with the Spirit. Afterwards there were more signs and wonders, the church was growing rapidly, and people were even trying to touch Peter's shadow. From Peter's example, we know:
1. The Spirit helped him overcome his weaknesses.
2. The Spirit gave him strengths in areas of earlier weaknesses.
3. The Spirit enabled him to move into ever greater signs and wonders.
4. The Spirit enabled him to bring increasingly larger numbers of peoples into the kingdom of God.
5. Peter demonstrated that we can be refilled with the Spirit with astonishing results.
Jesus said that we can do greater works than He did, that He will do whatever we ask in His Name, and that the Father is glorified by this. Surely, in the kingdom of God, we have unlimited energy and power. Maybe we need to make a concerted effort to use this energy and power to glorify Him.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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