English: New York stock market index from 1926...The economic conditions in our nation are causing a lot of stress these days.  Official reports show an unemployment rate of 8.2%, but in reality when you factor in people who have quit looking for work out of frustration, many experts believe the real rate of unemployment is closer to 14%.

For those of us still blessed to have a steady job, there is increased pressure to work longer hours and produce more because there are a lot of hungry people willing to replace us if the opportunity presents itself.  In times like these, Christians need to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

First, Jesus warned us to not worry about the future.  He said we cannot add a single day to our lives by worrying, and He also promised God would provide for our needs.  Which leads me to point #2:  I think this is a great time to do an assessment on what we view as “needs” in our lives.  Do we really “need” that new car, or latest i-pad, or brand new dress?  Or are we better off adjusting our spending to reflect a slow economy that many experts feel will get a lot worse before it gets better?  Jesus promised He would provide for our needs—food and shelter—but not that He would provide for every earthly desire of our hearts.

Is it possible God is testing and pruning us, preparing us for the end times?  Are we being refined to serve God’s purpose when things get really bad?  A time when being a Christian will bring real persecution and scorn from the world?  Could God be using this opportunity to wean us off our desires of things of this world, helping us focus on eternal things rather than the pleasures found in a fallen world of sin?

In challenging times it is important we know what we can and cannot control.  None of us can control the future.  A promotion or a pink slip can be waiting in our work mail box at anytime.  What we can control is our attitude and level of dedication to God in all things.  Will we trust in him, no matter what our circumstances?  Will we believe in His promises if things get really bad?

A day is coming when there will be tremendous pressure and persecution of true believers.  Many think these days just might occur in the next few years.  Always good to revisit the story of Job:  He was a righteous man who loved God, yet he lost all his wealth and children and endured tremendous sickness.  But in the end God restored all he had lost, because Job remained faithful.  Oh, he complained plenty, but in the end Job realized God is in control and all a man can do is trust in God, no matter our circumstances.

The last thing to remember is this:  Everything we earn or own in this lifetime will one day be burned up.  We will all stand naked before God and be judged for every thought, word and deed.  We will be held accountable for who or what we worshipped.  Jesus warned us no man can serve two masters—God and money.  These challenging economic times are a good test to see if we trust in our money or in God.  Have our earthly pleasures become what we truly worship?  Or do we truly worship only God?  Tough economic times will either lead us closer to or farther away from God.  So choose this day what we will worship and trust in—God, or things of this world.  But choose wisely, because it is the most important decision we will ever make—and our choice will have eternal consequences.