Inflation, and inflationary expectations, are particularly important in this economic environment. Decision-makers, policy-makers and analysts closely monitor changes in prices to predict economic growth, interest rates, the value of the U. S. dollar and actions of the Federal Reserve. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released two widely followed indices of producer and consumer inflation. The released estimates for both indices were below forecasts.
The Producer Price Index (PPI) increased 0.1 percent for the month of April—which was below both the 0.3 percent increase in March and the 0.3 percent forecasted. On a year-to-year basis, April producer prices were 2.6 percent higher, well below the annual 3.0 % increase in March. Transportation and warehousing services saw the largest monthly increase in prices (0.6 percent). Food prices fell the most for the month (-1.1 percent).
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.2 percent for the month—which was above the -0.1 percent in March, but below the 0.3 percent expected. From a year ago, consumer prices increased 2.5 percent. Gasoline (3.0 percent) and fuel oil (2.7 percent) had the largest monthly increases in prices. Used car and truck prices (-1.6 percent) dropped the most.
If the trend continues, lower than predicted inflation would be expected to result in greater corporate profits, lower interest rates, a stronger dollar, and Federal Reserve policies which are at least less aggressive. Many economists prefer stable to moderate inflation as an indication of a growing economy. Annual inflation rates of 2.6 percent for producers and 2.5 percent for consumers, reduce the fear of deflation and increase the likelihood that economic growth will be manageable.
Inflated expectations can play havoc in the kingdom and in our personal lives. Disappointment and even conflict result when expectations conflict with reality. Inflated expectations have caused people to become bitter, to lose hope and to even lose their confidence in God. Marriages have failed, friends have parted ways, people have left the church, ministries have been abandoned, and fortunes have been lost because of the dissonance between expectation and reality.
As believers, our expectations should be based on God, nothing more and nothing less. He has given us His word and the Holy Spirit. There are 5,467 promises in the Bible and each of these promises is totally reliable. He is fully capable, and He does not lie.
"God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He spoken, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (Num. 23:19).
"... and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was able to perform" (Rom. 4:21).
To align our expectations with God's promises, we need to remember the following principles.
- Is there a Biblical promise for what we are expecting?
- What is the Holy Spirit telling us?
- Do we feel peace?
- Have we sought the counsel of mature believers who are filled with faith and the Holy Spirit?
- If the direction was through one of the gifts of prophecy, has it been tested? Did you feel confirmation in your spirit? What is the reputation of the person giving the word?
- Do we expect the promise to be fulfilled our way?
- Do we consider that the timing of the Lord is often different than ours?
Inflated expectations are generally the result of pride or the sin of presumption. We are commanded to be humble. We are commanded to not commit the sin of presumption.
"When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom" (Prov. 11:2).
"A man's pride will bring him low, but honor will uphold the humble in spirit" (Prov. 29:23).
"For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed" (Rom. 15:18).
"Keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be upright, and innocent from great transgression" (Ps. 19:13).
Inflated expectations, at the least, cause disappointment. Disciples of Christ realize that He is sovereign. His timing is perfect. He is all-powerful. His motives are pure. His love for us is indescribable. Possibly, He is waiting for us to truly turn our lives over to him.
In life, many times our expectations will not align with reality. But if we are faithful and obedient, we know that all things will work to our good. We know that most of the time, reality will be much better than our expectations, because He loves us and is in control.
"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Eph 3:20-21).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.
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