May 3, 2023
There is something new and fun at the end of this week's edition of The Equipped! It's a way to say thank you to those of you who are helping grow this community. Be sure to read to the end and check it out!
This week, we explore three stories that seem to just keep surfacing over and over again. They provide us with a great opportunity to grow in the grace of ensuring that the message emanating from our life is consistent even when the circumstances around us seem stuck on repeat.
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Your Life's Sound
“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Those are David’s words in Psalm 34:1 (and very nearly echoed in Ps. 145:1), and they seem impossible to implement! How can you possibly praise God at all times? Is it really feasible for your words and your life to constantly—without exception or interruption—be aimed at glorifying your God? Is this simply a rhetorical flourish from David the poet? Or might there actually be a way for you and I to tap into this state of constant worship? How can we make the resounding and reverberating sound of our life be one that sings His never-ending praise?
Perhaps the answer is found in how we react to adversity. For the most part, it is easy for our lives to embody praise for our God when times are good. But when circumstances are tough, do I still praise Him? When you feel pressed on all sides, do you still sing His glory? In Psalm 42, the author expresses three times that his soul is “downcast,” and twice that it is “disturbed.” In each case, the author’s response is, “I will yet praise him.”
It is a wonderful and appropriate thing to praise God in our moments of triumph. But it is in your moments of challenge that you have an opportunity to choose a life of consistent praise. It is through choosing to praise even when you are “downcast” and “disturbed” that your life takes on the quality of a constant reverberation of His praise. When circumstances lose their power to silence your praise, your life’s sound truly does “extol the Lord at all times!”
Another Debt Limit Increase
There will be a high stakes meeting at the White House next week. President Biden has invited the four congressional leaders (Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries) to the White House on May 9 to attempt to reach a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling ahead of a June 1 “deadline” set by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Analysis: The White House meeting was scheduled after the U.S. House passed a bill to raise the debt limit and reduce federal spending in select areas. In essence, this forced President Biden, who favors an increase of the debt ceiling without any spending changes, to the negotiating table.
As we’ve previously discussed in The Equipped, it is important that we stay moored to a few realities over the next few weeks while this news is front-and-center:
- The June 1 deadline is not really a deadline, as Treasury has options to avoid default for a period of time.
- Default would indeed be a very poor outcome, but Congress will figure out a way to raise the debt limit—it always does.
- Continued increases in the debt limit without spending reforms simply ensure we’ll find ourselves right back in this position soon.
As Jesus followers, we should not take the rhetorical bait to panic about this Washington chaos. We should, however, lend persuasive effort to compel all of our elected leaders to heed the admonition of Proverbs 21:20 to spend less than we generate. Ultimately, our heart will follow our treasure, and as Ecclesiastes 5:10 reminds us, “Whoever loves money never has enough.” The true solution to this challenge lies in setting our hearts on that which is eternal.
Another Border Surge
A federal policy that has become known as “Title 42” (in reference to the portion of federal law that authorizes the policy) is set expire next week, and the Biden Administration has indicated it does not plan any further extension. As a result, U.S. cities along the southern border are beginning to declare a state of emergency in anticipation of a surge in migrants once Title 42 expires. Under Title 42, the administration has the authority to deny migrants entry into the country because of a public health emergency. Even with Title 42 in place, there have been a record and growing number of illegal crossings in recent months.
Analysis: The Bible repeatedly invites us as Jesus followers to care for the foreigner (Matt. 25:35, Lev. 19:33-34, Deut. 10:19). The Bible also speaks clearly on the importance of providing security for those—especially the weak—living in your land (Ps. 122:7, Luke 11:14-23, Ps. 42:1-2). We should seek to be faithful to both of these commands. This will require diligence in separating out the duties of an individual Jesus follower from the responsibilities of the government.
Each of us should look for ways to serve precious Image-bearers who are strangers in our land. This command is not a contingent one, and is in fact one of the most tangible ways we can walk out the Gospel. Much like caring for the widow and the orphan, this is a service to which every Jesus follower is called.
The command to care for the foreigner is not, however, a license for chaos. We also have a biblical imperative to provide structure and security to those—both citizen and non-citizen—within our borders. This requires responsible border policies, which any honest observer should acknowledge is currently absent. Without this structure, our nation struggles to be the welcoming beacon of opportunity it has for so long been. The chaos directly weakens our ability to admit and serve the most vulnerable.
The Bible invites us to provide security for those in the land. In our country today, this imperative is largely a responsibility of the government, and we would do well to encourage its more robust realization. The Bible also compels us to be compassionate to those who are strangers in our land. This is largely our job as Jesus followers, and we would do well to fulfill this mission even in the most challenging of circumstances.
Another Bank Failure
First Republic Bank became the third major U.S. bank to collapse in recent days when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) oversaw its takeover by JPMorgan Chase. First Republic’s collapse follows that of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank earlier this year. Together, these failures represent the second, third, and fourth largest bank collapses in U.S. history. Only the 2008 failure of Washington Mutual Bank was larger.
Eternal perspective: Everything of this world will one day pass away (Matt. 5:18, Matt. 24:35, Rev. 21:1). While at first, this might seem alarming, it can actually be liberating for Jesus followers if it causes us to put our trust in that which is eternal—namely, God’s Word (Ps. 119:89, Matt. 24:35, 1 Pet. 1:25).
It is wise for us to be clear-eyed about the economic fractures in our world today, and to prepare accordingly. We should do so, however, mindful of what will last, and without compromising the spirit of generosity to which we are called.
Golden Bowls of Incense
Revelation likens the prayers of God’s people to “golden bowls of incense” (Rev. 5:8). What a fitting depiction of the beautiful gift of prayer!
This Thursday is the National Day of Prayer. It is a beautiful opportunity for us to come together and pray for our nation and our neighbors.
As we learn how to praise continually, especially when the world around us seems stuck on repeat, let’s remember to bask in the beautiful gift of direct access to the Almighty God through prayer. Our life is most beautiful, most impactful, and most fragrant to Him when it is fervently devoted to both praise and prayer.
The more things change, the more they stay the same! It is true for the stories we covered today, but it's all the more true when considering our God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever! May our praise for Him be unchanging and undiminished, as well!