The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Stock Indices closed last week at all-time record highs. The NASDAQ Composite Index closed the week by making its sixth consecutive positive close, which was just below its all-time record. But, as stocks hit record highs, an increasing chorus of analysts are issuing warnings, ranging anywhere from a slight correction to economic collapse. Other prognosticators are calling for strength for more than a decade.
Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, appears to be more dovish on raising interest rates, since inflation and wages are below her expectations. She also is more likely to start unwinding the Fed's $4.9 trillion bond portfolio later in the year. The markets moved up in response to her statements. Industrial production and capacity utilization were also above pre-report expectations.
Retail sales dropped 0.2 percent for June, when analysts were expecting a 0.1 percent increase. Consumers have become less optimistic with consumer sentiment dropping from 95.1 to 93.1. Similarly, NFIB's small business optimism index fell from 104.5 to 103.6. The combination of weakness in retail sales, consumer sentiment and small business optimism is troubling, at least for the near-term.
Even if one has a positive economic outlook, U. S. congressional deadlock and the global environment increase risks. North Korea, Syria, Iran, Brexit and a host of other issues could easily derail a strong economy. Some scenarios could result in recession or worse. On the other hand, the economy could continue to strengthen. The only constant in today's world is change. No one can consistently and accurately predict the economy over time.
Regardless of the environment, citizens of the kingdom have an unfair advantage. Our source is not in the world. Our source is the Creator and sustainer of the universe. As good stewards, we are cognizant of conditions in the world and attempt to make wise decisions. But our faith is not in our circumstances and surroundings. Our faith is in God. His promises are sure.
The world is concerned about food and clothing. Kingdom citizens seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Our King provides.
"Therefore, take no thought, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' (For the Gentiles seek after all these things.) For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you" (Matt. 6:31-33).
In the kingdom, circumstances are irrelevant. Joseph went from being a favorite son to a slave in Potiphar's house to being falsely accused to being falsely imprisoned to being in charge of all the prisoners to becoming a ruler in Egypt second only to Pharaoh. Potiphar, the jailer and Pharaoh recognized that God was with Joseph and caused him to prosper in all he did (Gen. 39-41).
Similarly, a widow was facing the loss of her two sons because of debt, and she only had a jar of oil. She went to the prophet Elisha to ask for help. Elisha told her to borrow many empty vessels and to go into the house and pour the oil from the jar into them. She filled all of the jars with olive oil. At Elisha's direction, she sold the oil, paid her debt and lived off of the excess (2 Kin. 4:1-7). In the kingdom, circumstances are irrelevant.
As disciples of Christ, we are instructed to pray for the kingdom to come so that His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God is demonstrated in power—power over sin, fear, sickness, lack, insignificance and loneliness. We are not of the world; we are sons and daughters of Most High God in the kingdom of light.
"Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).
"For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (1 Cor. 4:20).
"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head above all" (1 Chr. 29:11).
" For the kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17).
We can choose to follow the kingdom of the world with its greed, sin and despair, or we can choose a higher path. We all have a part to play in making earth like heaven, where His will is done on earth.
"The call to "take the land" ... is not a call to a new political, cultural or geographical dominance. It is kingdom of God territory. It is the will of the eternal God being done on earth, as it is in heaven." ― Ken Baker
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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