As we go into the new year, the sons of Issachar are a great example for us to learn from. In 1Chron.12:32 we read they understood the times in which they lived and knew what they had to do. So too we need to understand our times and know what we need to do. We shouldn’t be surprised at the trouble that is coming upon the world. The Bible clearly states the last days will be times of severe distress.
Jesus said in John 16:33 that in the world we will have trouble, but that He has overcome the world. In the Amplified version it reads: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer (take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted) for I have overcome the world. (I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you).
Jesus also said in John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” And in Matthew 7:21-22: “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practise lawlessness!”
These are amazing statements! Here we see the Lord Himself define eternal life as knowing Him, and we see Him actually refusing people entry into the Kingdom of Heaven on the basis that He did not know them. These were people who thought their works qualified them to enter in.
Also, the Apostle Paul stated his whole focus was to know the Lord. In Philippians 3:8-12: “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord….that I may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ…..that I may know Him…Not that I have already attained, but I press on…”
Looking at the Scriptures above, I believe the most important thing for us, in all our doings, all our works, our ministries, our jobs, whatever they may be, the single most important thing is to know Him. Not just to know about Him, but to actually know Him as our Lord, our God, our Guide and our daily Friend. Are we, nearer to the Lord now than this time last year? The good news is that, in James 4:8, God promises us that if we draw near to Him He will draw near to us.
As we do that we will live (abide) in Him and His Word will live in us (John:15:7) and we will experience that life in the Spirit that liberates us from a life of tick-box obedience, (Romans 8, Col.2:20-23). The daily life of walking with the Lord in the Spirit is what people actually want and need to see in us, as opposed to a life of self-righteous religiosity. And as we press on to know the Lord then the more like Him we will become, and so we will be effective servants of the Lord in these troubled times.