The last week shook many market analysts and watchers. The Dow Jones Industrial Index fell 4.5 percent, the S&P 500 Index fell 4.6 percent and the Nasdaq Index fell 4.9 percent for the week—the worst weekly performance since March. The Dow plunged 799 points last Tuesday. The next trading day, the Dow fell nearly 800 points on concern about U. S./China trade but rallied on news the Fed may slow the pace of its interest rate increases to close the day only slightly lower.
For the last couple of weeks, the market has been very sensitive to news, and there have been lots of surprising headlines. Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the request of the U. S. Chinese Huawei is one of the world's largest mobile phone manufacturers. Huawei is also one of world's leaders in the emerging 5G technology but has been accused of illegally skirting Iran sanctions. Many believe that the arrest harms the chances of the United States and China reaching a trade agreement.
In other news, BLS released a disappointing December Employment Report. The monthly change in non-farm employment, at 155,000, and private payrolls, at 161,000, were toward the lower end of pre-report forecasts. Average hourly earnings increased a less than expected 0.2 percent for the month. Average weekly hours decreased from 34.5 to 34.4 hours.
The unemployment rate remained at a 17-year low of 3.7percent and the labor force participation rate remained at 62.9 percent. Total employment at 156,795,000 is an all-time record high. The black unemployment rate tied the all-time record low of 5.9 percent. At 4.5 percent, the Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate is just off the record low rate of 4.4 percent.
With all of the negative news, the consumer has thus far remained unshakable. The University of Michigan's December Index of Consumer Sentiment remained unchanged at 97.5. For the last two years (January 2017 - December 2018), consumer sentiment has been above 90 and has averaged 97.5. The last time the index has been consistently above 90 for 24 months occurred from 1997 to 2000.
Kingdom citizens will have many opportunities to be shaken in this life. Shakings can occur because of our enemy, because of our circumstances or actions, or as a form of testing or discipline to move us back to the correct path. Regardless of the reason or the source, our response should be the same. We should use the shakings as an opportunity to move closer to the Lord and His kingdom. Our flesh will want to concentrate on the shaking. Our spirit will want to seek the Lord. We should ensure, through Holy Spirit empowered discipline, that our soul (our mind, will and emotions) moves close to the Lord where the victory lies.
As kingdom citizens, victory is assured. When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we received a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Regardless of what is going on around us, the kingdom cannot be shaken. We need to be thankful. We should have proper reverence and awe toward God. We should serve him. The kingdom offers safety and security.
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved, let us be gracious, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Heb. 12:28).
In the parable of the house built on the foundation of rock, Jesus gave three principles to overcome shaking. Specifically, we need to come to Him, to hear His words and to act on them. Jesus also taught that those who hear, but don't act accordingly, will experience loss. Note that all face storms, but those that act on the words of Jesus, overcome the storm—the others do not.
Whoever comes to Me and hears My words and does them, I will show whom he is like: He is like a man who built a house, and dug deep, and laid the foundation on rock. When the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, but could not shake it, for it was founded on rock. But he who hears and does not obey is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently. Immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great (Luke 6:47-49).
During the time of the Lord's earthly ministry, Simon Peter was bold but often impetuous and unsteady. He had the courage to get out of the boat but faltered when he looked at the waves. He had the courage to take his sword and cut off the servant's ear but had denied the Lord before night was over.
The Lord warned Peter that times of shaking were coming; Satan wanted to sift him as wheat. In biblical days, wheat was crushed (threshing) and then thrown into the air (winnowing) to separate the lighter outside layer of chaff from the heavier kernel of wheat. The Lord told Peter that he had prayed that his faith would not fail. He instructed Peter to strengthen his brethren after returning. Peter didn't take the warning to heart, but instead told the Lord that he would be willing to die for Him. Note that the Lord's instructions involved coming back to Him and to act.
\"Then the Lord said, "Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to have you to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have repented, strengthen your brothers'" (Luke 22:31-32).
Let us come to Jesus, hear His words and act on them. Let us develop a faith that can overcome any shaking. With the Lord's way, victory is assured.
"For the mountains may be removed, and the hills may shake, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has mercy on you" (Isa. 54:10).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.
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