April saw the largest monthly increase in total industrial production in more than three years. The Federal Reserve reported a 1 percent monthly increase, which was double the March rate, more than double pre-report expectations, and the largest monthly increase in more than three years. Industrial production increased 2.2 percent from year-ago levels. The April report was the third consecutive report which showed a monthly increase.
Industrial production for the manufacturing sector also saw the largest monthly increase in more than three years. The April monthly increase of 1 percent compares to a 0.4 percent decrease in March, and was more than triple pre-report forecasts. increases were seen in consumer goods (1.5 percent), business equipment (1.2 percent), and defense and space equipment (0.5 percent). Within consumer goods, motor vehicles were up a likely unsustainable 5 percent.
The manufacturing capacity utilization rate in April was 76.7 percent; up from 76.1 percent in March. But the rate is still below the pre-recession level (-4.1percent) and the long-run average (-2.5 percent). Utilization for nearly all sectors increased from the previous month, but are still below long-run averages.
The positive industrial production report was released the day before the Dow Jones Industrial Index fell 372 points as various politicians discussed possible impeachment. The economy is experiencing a lot of turmoil. Some of the economic reports are positive and some are negative.
But for the near term, political and international developments, with their respective policy implications, may have the largest causal influence. What will happen with health care? What about tax policy? How much additional infrastructure spending? What about international trade? These factors will impact production and the economy.
Believers are told to be productive. Specifically, we are told to be productive in the church, in our families, in our vocations and to multiply our resources (or talents). We know that we are saved by faith. But the saved, regenerated, Spirit-empowered soul is told to be productive.
Christians are told to bear much fruit (production). We are all told that whatever we do, to do for the glory of God. A true believer will want to glorify the Father, and much fruit glorifies the Father.
"My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:8).
"Therefore, whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).
All vocations provide the opportunity to bear fruit. Whenever a business takes a stand against society's non-biblical norms, the Father is glorified. Whenever a business treats its customers, employees and community according to biblical principles, the Father is glorified. When parents stay together and raise their children according to the admonitions of the Lord, the Father is glorified. When an artist creates an uplifting piece of art, or a photographer takes an inspiring photograph, the Father is glorified.
In the church, whenever pastors, teachers, evangelists, apostles, prophets, musicians, intercessors, greeters, nursery workers, youth leaders and custodians work as unto the Lord, the Father is glorified. The people will feel loved, be blessed and be equipped to go and bear more fruit. The Father is further glorified.
Too many of today's believers compartmentalize church attendance (if they go) and everyday life. This ought not to be. While many promises exist for the believer, some are actualized corporately. For example, the Lord said that He is in us and will be among us. We have specific promises about corporate worship and prayer entertaining His presence. Disregarding the fellowship of believers places individuals at unnecessary risk. We should be the same whether in the church or at work. Either Jesus is our Lord 24/7 or He is not our Lord. To produce all the fruit we are called to produce requires us to be connected with the body of Christ.
Jesus was clear: To be productive and to produce much fruit we must abide in Him, His words must abide in us and we need to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit.
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
"If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7).
"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" (Eph. 3:20).
Economists worry about industrial production. Christians should worry about fruit.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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