Last year was a good year for the economy. This year looks even better as Americans fully feel the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Since tax reform wasn't passed until December, economic adjustments to this act are just beginning to be made. Most of the strength, prior to passing tax reform, was due to regulatory relief and increased business and consumer optimism. The last year includes many significant economic milestones:
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average established a new all-time record-high close, on average, about every four trading days. The index crossed the psychologically important 26,000 threshold for the first time in its 120-year history.
- The national unemployment rate was at a 17-year low. Female unemployment saw an 18-year low. Black and Hispanic unemployment saw all-time record lows.
- Small-business optimism was at an all-time record high.
- Mass corporate layoffs were at their lowest since 1990.
- New manufacturing orders hit a 14-year high.
- Apple announced that it would repatriate $245 billion in cash held overseas, invest $350 billion in the U.S. economy in the next five years, hire 20,000 new workers and give each existing worker a $2,500 stock bonus.
- Within 30 days of tax reform implementation, more than 200 companies, representing more than 20 million employees, had announced employee bonuses, salary increases, greater contributions to retirement plans, increased employee development and/or increased charitable contributions.
Despite their potential impact, economy-friendly policies were not previously implemented. For years, the U.S. had the highest corporate tax rate in the industrial world but complained of a slow economy. Potential policies have no impact, but execution actualizes potential.
The kingdom of God is a supernatural kingdom. As citizens of God's kingdom, we are expected to follow the King and execute His will with wisdom and power. We are also expected to execute His direction with excellence.
Daniel provides a good example of a kingdom life. He had decided to live a holy life in obedience. He believed in and operated in the supernatural. His consecration was such that he would honor the Lord regardless of consequences. Daniel fasted and prayed and was held in high esteem by the Lord. But he was also a good student and administrator who executed his duties faithfully.
Daniel was taken to Babylon as a slave while still a youth. He likely had a noble upbringing in Jerusalem and was probably made a eunuch while a slave. He was chosen with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to potentially serve in the king's court. They were expected to eat the king's choice food and drink and to undergo a rigorous educational program.
But Daniel made up his mind that he wouldn't defile himself with the king's diet. Through supernatural intervention, he and his three companions were better off physically than the rest of the youth who were eating the king's food. God blessed their training by giving them wisdom and intelligence. One can assume the four Jewish boys executed their educational study assignments with diligence.
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's food, nor with the wine which he drank" (Dan. 1:8a). "As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and skill in every branch of learning and wisdom. And Daniel had understanding in all kinds of visions and dreams" (Dan. 1:17).
In times of testing, Daniel and his companions overcame. When the Babylonian king had a forgotten dream that bothered him, God disclosed to Daniel both the dream and interpretation. As a result, Daniel was promoted (Dan. 2). His companions refused to bow and worship an image. They were thrown into a fiery furnace, but God delivered them (Dan. 3). Daniel refused to pray to the king and was thrown into a den of lions, but God delivered him (Dan. 6).
When the king wanted to promote Daniel as an administrator over the kingdom, other jealous officials wanted to discredit him. They could find no evidence of anyone accusing him. Daniel had executed his duties with diligence and with no evidence of negligence or corruption. "But they could find no occasion or fault because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him" (Dan. 6:4b).
The Lord required Daniel to be obedient in the face of opposition. Daniel was faithful and received the Lord's supernatural blessing. But the Lord also required him to faithfully execute his duties as a student and as an administrator. As we execute God's will in our lives, let us seek His grace in the natural and in the spiritual.
James R. Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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