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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a surprisingly high November Producer Price Index (PPI). Producer inflation increased 0.3% (0.3% previously, 0.2% expected) compared to the last month. Core PPI, which excludes energy and food, was even higher at 0.4% (0.1% previously, 0.2% expected) for the month. Fresh and dry vegetable prices increased 38% while gasoline prices dropped 6% for the month.
The stock markets dropped sharply after the PPI report as traders anticipated that the Federal Reserve would have to raise interest rates more aggressively and/or keep interest rates higher for a longer period.
Other reports were mixed during the week. The S&P global composite and services indices, factory orders, consumer sentiment and consumer expectations were stronger than expected. Consumer credit, net exports and the balance of trade were weaker than expected.
Most analysts and CEOs are expecting a recession over the next 18 months. Some are expecting a mild recession, while others are expecting a severe recession. An October survey of CEOs showed that 98% were taking actions in anticipation of a slowing economy. Jess Bezos of Amazon fame, asked consumers to avoid unnecessary spending while warning about a coming global recession.
Citizens of the kingdom that have a relationship with the King have an assurance that people of the world do not have. In Proverbs 22:1-4, we are told that favor is better than silver and gold, and that the Lord is in control. The writer cautions us to be prudent and to take protective actions when we see danger ahead. But ultimately, if we are humble with the fear of the Lord, we will experience riches, honor and life.
“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold. The rich and the poor have a common bond, the LORD is the Maker of them all. A prudent person sees evil and hides himself, but the naïve proceed, and pay the penalty. The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, honor and life,” (Prov. 22:1-4, NASB 2020).
The Scriptures are replete with individuals who have experienced victory, abundance and significance while honoring the King of kings in the face of tremendous obstacles. Each of these individuals decided to follow the Lord and to put their faith and confidence in Him.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was purchased by Potiphar, the captain of the guard, in Egypt. Potiphar put him in charge of all his possessions because he saw that Joseph prospered because the Lord was with him. He was then falsely accused of sexual assault and thrown into jail. The jailer put him in charge of the prisoners because he saw the Lord was with him and caused Joseph to prosper in everything. Joseph came before Pharaoh and interpreted a dream. Pharaoh recognized the Spirt in Joseph and put him as the second ruler of the most powerful nation in at the world (Gen. 39-41).
As King of Judah, Jehoshaphat was alarmed when a great multitude from Moab and Ammon were coming against them. Jehoshaphat called a fast and gathered Judah to seek the Lord concerning the matter. The Lord spoke through Jahaziel who told them the battle was the Lord’s, where they would find the enemy and that they were to take their positions and watch the Lord’s deliverance.
Jehoshaphat told the people to put their trust in the Lord and they would endure and to trust His prophets and that they would succeed. He put the singers, as they were praising the Lord, ahead of the army where they witnessed a great victory as the enemy destroyed itself. Judah gathered the spoils for three days (2 Chron. 20).
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were carried as young men from Judah to Babylon as slaves. They were put into an educational/training program to decide if they would serve in the king’s court. The program required them to eat the king’s rations, but they decided they would not defile themselves.
Through favor they were allowed to eat fruits and vegetables. They entered the king’s personal service because their extraordinary performance. Through the years, they survived a fiery furnace, a lion’s den and palace intrigue because the Lord had their primary allegiance.
Although we face economic, political, social and health uncertainties, we should remember that our citizenship is in heaven. We are mere visitors in this world. We serve an all-knowing, all-powerful, ever present, compassionate and merciful God, who loves us more than we can possibly imagine. He has entrusted us with power. We have the promises of His word which will not fail. We have the Spirit of the most-high God living inside of us.
There is nothing which we cannot endure. Victory is assured.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen,” (Eph. 3:20-21, NASB 2020).
Dr. James R. Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.