In Luke 12:54-56, Jesus urged us to understand the times in which we live…..
And Jesus was saying to the crowds – When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, “A shower is coming,” and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, “It will be a hot day,” and it turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?
During the course of this conference, we’re going to analyze this present time and examine some of the most serious threats and crises facing us today.But let’s begin with the economy.
- The U.S. unemployment rate has skyrocketed from 4.5% in the beginning of 2007 to 8.1% today….12.5 million Americans are currently out of work. Some 2.6 million Americans have lost their jobs in just the last four months. Nearly 1.2 million American families have lost their homes since 2007. California has been hit particularly hard – the Golden State had the second highest rate of house foreclosures in the nation in February.
- In 2008, Americans lost some $6.9 trillion in wealth in the stock markets.
- When you combine stock market losses and the collapse of home values, Americans have lost $11.2 trillion in household wealth in the last 18 months, according to Federal Reserve Bank data.
- And with the loss of jobs, and the loss of homes, and the loss of so much wealth has come a loss of confidence, a loss of hope.
Americans, of course, are not alone.
The head of the International Monetary Fund told a reporter last month: “The world is in a dire economic crisis….The crisis will push millions into poverty and unemployment, risking social unrest and even war, and urgent action is required…”
- A new report by a private Wall Street firm finds: “Between 40 and 45 percent of the world’s wealth has been destroyed in little less than a year and a half,”….and adds: “this is absolutely unprecedented in our lifetime.”
- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently told a conference in Europe that 100 million people have been thrust into poverty as a result of the global economic crisis. He cited a World Bank statistic that “half a million children will die simply because they won’t have enough to live on.”
- What’s more, the Prime Minister added: “It is absolutely clear that the global institutions that we built in the 1940s are quite incapable of dealing with the problems that we have now.”
The global financial institutions we have today are the most sophisticated the world has ever known – yet clearly they are failing us. The world’s leaders just met at the G20 summit in London – yet clearly they have no answers. Many are looking to Washington for a rescue plan they can count on – but it is far from clear Washington knows what to do. Washington’s plan is to try to spend our way out of the crisis, to add $9.3 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. It’s a plan that is leaving many here at home and around the world fearful or angry. How, they ask, can we possibly add $9 trillion in debt to the $10 trillion in debt we’re already passing on to our children and grandchildren?
CNBC’s Jim Cramer – long a supporter of President Obama – has in just the past two months become a sharp critic of what he calls the new administration’s “radical agenda.” He calls the administration’s spending plans “the greatest wealth destruction I’ve seen by a President.” What’s more, he says the President’s plans have created “a level of fear in this country that I have not seen ever in my life.”In this, he is quite right. A new poll finds that “53% [of Americans] now think the United States is…likely to enter a 1930’s-like depression within the next few years.”
Not surprisingly, our newspapers are filled with stories of the emotional impact of the economic crisis – more cases of drug and alcohol abuse, more case of spousal and child abuse, and this is just the beginning. A suicide hotline near Los Angeles reports a 60% spike in calls since the crisis began. A suicide hotline near Chicago reports a 70% increase in recent months. A national suicide hotline is also seeing a 70% increase in calls.
“People are fearful,” says a family therapist in Richmond, Virginia, quoted in a newspaper article I read recently. “Nobody knows what is next, so there is a lot more anxiety.”
“A lot of people have lost their jobs for the first time,” says the executive director of a crisis hotline near Lynchburg, Virginia. “It hits them pretty hard. They don’t know where to turn
Perhaps that is why you have come, or tuned into this conference. Perhaps you are fearful, not sure what will happen next….not sure where to turn. If so, let me begin with some good news. The Bible says that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a God who loves you and wants to adopt you into His family. The Bible says God has a plan and a purpose for your live, a plan for good and not for evil.The Bible says He is a great and powerful God. In Hebrew, we call Him El Gibor, the “mighty God.” He is all knowing, all sovereign, all powerful. He is completely in control….and He promises to give wisdom to those who seek Him.
The Bible says in Daniel 2:20-23…..
Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong
to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs. He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things….To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise….
The Bible says in James 1:5…..
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 11:28-30….
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
You and I don’t know what tomorrow holds. But God does. None of the speakers on this platform today has the ability to take care of you whenever and wherever disaster strikes. But God does. None of us in this room have the wisdom we’ll need to navigate every twist and turn in the road of life, especially with all that lies ahead. But God does.
When we read the economic news going from bad to worse month by month, it’s almost as if we can hear the ice cracking underneath our feet. Humanly speaking, we have very little influence to stop or change the current course of events.
The Bible indicates that when the return of Jesus Christ is near, life will actually get much more difficult. Jesus warned us in Matthew 24 to expect wars and rumors of wars, kingdoms rising against kingdoms, nations going to war with other nations, the rise of false messiahs and false prophets, earthquakes, famines, apostasy, lawlessness, people’s love for one another growing cold, rampant persecution of followers of Jesus Christ and so forth. It was quite a list. And we are seeing all of it coming to pass in our lifetime. And the Bible says it will get even worse as we go forward. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the God of the Bible is a God we can trust to care for us and save us no matter what happens. So we must pray. We must get on our knees, humble ourselves, turn to the Lord and seek His wisdom, His mercy, His grace, His favor on our nation and our leaders, lest we see the current economic crisis take us into a financial death spiral.
I have no doubt the Lord is shaking our country and He is seeking to purify His Church. He is making us reconsider what we value, where our treasure is, where our hearts are. He is preparing us to see Him face to face. For when we see Him, the Bible teaches that there will be a day of accounting. He will ask us what we did with the resources He entrusted to us.
What, then, shall we say?
In Matthew 6:25-33, Jesus told us…..
Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.