Reports last week indicated the monthly change in August indices of U.S. production, New York manufacturing and Philadelphia business conditions fell sharply.
In addition, Hewlett-Packard announced layoffs of up to 30,000, Deutsch Bank of 23,000, Johnson Controls of 3,000 and Qualcomm of 1,300. It appears unlikely that these lost high-paying jobs will be replaced quickly.
The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged after hinting for more than a year that they would begin to slowly raise interest rates. Many were expecting an increase of up to 0.25 percent—not a big change. Normally, we would expect the markets to be rejoicing at the news. But many were wondering, "What does the Fed know that we do not?" The Dow Jones Industrial index fell nearly 300 points after the announcement.
The Census Bureau also released a report on income for 2014. Adjusted for inflation, median family incomes were the same as they were in 1996 and more than 6 percent below pre-recession 2007 levels. For full-time workers, real median earnings are the lowest in 44 years for male workers and 14 years for female workers. The U.S. poverty rate has remained nearly constant since the beginning of the last recession.
Fundamentals indicate the economy may worsen, perhaps significantly. Although some kingdom citizens are already under financial stress, many more would be at risk if the economy were to deteriorate further. A weaker economy would also present greater opportunities to demonstrate the love of God to nonbelievers.
It is imperative that the full kingdom message be taught to our sheep during these challenging times. We should make disciples of the King who have their minds renewed with the Word of God and are fully empowered by the Holy Spirit. History is replete with examples of God's faithfulness in difficult or even impossible situations.
It would be impossible for Moses to lead 2-3 million people and their livestock for 40 years through the desert. They would need to be protected and have food, water, clothing, medical attention and even directions in their pre-GPS world. But God provided.
It would be impossible for Gideon with 300 men to defeat an army of 135,000 Midianites. After all, Gideon was young and was not known for his bravery. But God provided.
It would be impossible for Joshua to lead Israel across the Jordan River and defeat Jericho. The Jordan River was overflowing and Jericho was known for the massive defensive wall which surrounded it. But God provided.
It would be impossible for a widow to redeem her two sons for unpaid debts with a single jar of oil. But Elisha told her the Word of the Lord, and God provided.
It would be impossible for Elijah to defeat 450 of the prophets of Baal. The false prophets had the support of the people and King Ahab. But Elijah called for the fire of God, and God provided.
It would be impossible for a few disciples to go into all the world and make more disciples. But suddenly, the tongues of fire appeared, and God provided.
The state of the economy should not cause anxiety or fear. Even if the economy is in recession, depression or collapsing, God is more than able and He has proven himself faithful. As ministers of the gospel, we have the charge to equip the saints. With the Lord's help, our sheep can be spirituality, emotionally, physically and mentally prepared for any challenges we may face.
Dr. James R. Russell is professor of economics and chair of the Undergraduate College of Business at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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