How to Know God Better

Grantley Morris

Part 4

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(Part 1)

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Look for God in Unlikely Places

We rightly expect to find God in the Bible and, without question, we must revere it as our highest revelation and most reliable source of truth and the standard by which everything else must be judged. We’ll confirm this a little more in a later section. The Bible itself, however, shows that God refuses to be limited to the written word in his communication with humanity. I am not, of course, suggesting that anything be accepted as being from God, other than in submission to the Spirit and by seeking biblical confirmation of any insights gained. Nevertheless, over and over, the Bible shows the dynamic Lord refusing to be limited to Scripture alone when revealing himself and his truths to people. Scripture records instances of people discovering spiritual truths through reading the Bible but, even more often, it records God communicating with them other than through direct Bible reading.

I expect readers who don’t know me to get nervous, should their imaginations run wild as to where they think I might go with this. Please spare yourself a heart attack by waiting to see how conservative this is.

Even when limiting ourselves to Bible study, however, we find God revealing himself in unlikely places. Consider, for example, this Mosaic law: “You shall not muzzle the ox when he treads out the grain” (Deuteronomy 25:4). Who would expect to find in those few words God speaking to us about financial remuneration for pastors? And yet twice (1 Timothy 5:18 is the second time) the inspired apostle Paul says he sees in this Scripture a divine principle that extends far beyond treatment of animals (let alone just oxen). In fact, he words it quite strongly:

    1 Corinthians 9:7-10 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? [Note, “surely” “doesn't he”. Paul is saying it should be obvious to his readers. He expected not only him to see this, but all Christian readers of the Old Testament.] Yes, this was written for us . . . (NIV).

When it comes to finding God in unlikely places, ponder Isaiah’s famous vision of celestial beings proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory,” (Isaiah 6:2, KJV).

The whole earth? Really? Don’t these creatures with their heads in the clouds know that right from the first humans, sin has ruined everything? Ever since, as divinely pronounced, humanity has struggled with Satan, women have suffered in childbirth and in marriage, the ground has been cursed, men suffer pain and struggle to make a living, and everyone has been subject to death (Genesis 3:14-19). Not even the moon and stars are pure in God’s eyes (Job 25:5). Indeed, “the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now;” having been “subjected to vanity” and “the bondage of decay” (Romans 8:20-22).

As the anointed apostle writes:

    Romans 3:9-18, 23 What then? Are we better than they? No, in no way. For we previously warned both Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin. As it is written,

    “There is no one righteous; no, not one. There is no one who understands. There is no one who seeks after God. They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable. There is no one who does good, no, not so much as one.” “Their throat is an open tomb. With their tongues they have used deceit.” “The poison of vipers is under their lips”; “whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways. The way of peace, they haven’t known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[Psalm 14 and Psalm 53]  . . . for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God

See that, seraphim! Everyone on this spiritually defiled planet has fallen short of the glory of God. Why in heaven do you keep prattling on with this nonsense about the whole earth being filled with God’s glory?

On and on we could go about how messed up this sin-stained planet is, but is there any need for me do so? Blind Freddie and anyone else with half a brain could see it – except for these holy ones. Surely in their dazzling purity, immersed in heaven’s perfection, they, far more than anyone born here and knowing nothing better, must see how far short of God’s glory this planet falls. Are they blind? Or am I?

I’ll have one more go at proving my point before these infuriating beings drive me bonkers:

    Isaiah 24:5-6 The earth . . . is polluted under its inhabitants . . . the curse has devoured the earth . . .

That’s from Isaiah, the very book that records the seraphim’s declaration that the whole earth is filled with God’s glory!

What chance do I have of knowing God well, if God’s glory is everywhere and I can’t even see it? How can these glorious beings see it everywhere on my native planet when I can't?

Here are some thoughts: These creatures were in God’s very throne room, continually beholding his glory. So they knew what to look for. That must help immensely. But notice that each one had six wings and with two of those wings they covered their faces (Isaiah 6:3). So they were not seeing with physical eyes, but seeing with the Spirit, which presumably requires one to abide in God and see through the eyes of faith. That opens an entirely new world, allowing one to see beyond the painfully obvious.

Have you noticed if you get a different car, you suddenly start seeing more cars like it than you have ever seen before? Reality has not changed but you are seeing it in a new way.

I can see God’s glory through the eyes of faith far more than when I was younger because I’ve seen so many apparent disasters in my own life turned around by the King of Glory until they shine. I am now more able to look at evil and by faith see into the future when God turns it around for his glory. We can see divine glory in Joseph’s life when he was raised to prominence in Pharaoh’s court, but would we have had the faith to glory in the divine plan before it became obvious, and Joseph was still languishing in prison?

It is typical of our astonishing Lord to pour so much good into an appalling situation that the evil ends up swallowed by good. Surely this is the good Lord’s greatest glory; the pinnacle of which is the cross. We should be careful, however, not to insult the Holy One by confusing God defeating evil this way and him initiating or approving of evil. That, of course, would be utterly contrary to who he is.

The disgusting behavior of Joseph’s jealous brothers, Potiphar’s wife’s attempted seduction and scandalous accusations resulting in false imprisonment, and the cupbearer’s betrayal, were in no way divinely inspired, even though the Almighty, in his genius and power, triumphed over it all by managing to wring good out of acts that sickened and infuriated him.

God’s glory truly is over all the earth, even if sometimes it is simply his astounding grace in allowing opportunity for repentance by displaying stupendous patience in deferring his execution of justice. To be raptured by his glory, however, we must seek God for the ability to see through the blatantly obvious.

In Jesus’ parables we see the Son of God was continually discerning spiritual principles in nature, such as the way a seedling grows (Mark 4:26-29) and the kingdom of God being likened to a mustard seed (Mark 4:30-32). Even more common, was Jesus seeing spiritual principles in everyday human events, such as fishermen sorting through their catch (Matthew 13:47-48), children playing (Matthew 11:16–19), an unexpected visitor (Luke 11:5-8), a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), weddings and very many more.

Astonishingly, Jesus saw God speaking to humanity not just through righteous people but through the actions of blatantly sinful ones, such as a wayward son and a jealous brother (Luke 15:11-32), a man who was about to lose his job, deciding to cheat his employer out of money owed to him (Luke 16:1-8), and an enemy sowing weeds in a farmer’s crop (Matthew 13:25). Talk about unlikely places!

In fact, seeing revelations of God’s nature all around him so permeated Jesus’ view of life that it extended beyond parables into his other teaching. For example:

    Luke 12:24-25; 27-28 Consider the ravens: they don’t sow, they don’t reap, they have no warehouse or barn, and God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds! . . . Consider the lilies, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if this is how God clothes the grass in the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith?

    Matthew 15:26  . . . “It is not appropriate to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

Some of Jesus’ parables contain accounts of events that cannot currently be seen with one’s physical eyes, such as people having divine encounters. Examples include what happened to Lazarus and the rich man after they died, how people on Judgment Day will be separated into two groups like sheep and goats, and the tax collector going home from the temple forgiven but not the Pharisee who boasted about his goodness. As as child I was taught that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. These particular stories seem more heavenly than earthly. After eliminating these from my list, I have counted almost fifty of Jesus’ parables in which Jesus saw spiritual truths in events that either actually happened, or could easily have happened, in the world around him, without God directly appearing or verbally speaking.

In addition to telling parables, Jesus even created parables of his own, such as the miraculous catch of fish (followed immediately by Jesus saying he would make them fishers of men – Luke 5:4-11 and when, merely by him speaking to it, a fig tree that made a show of fruitfulness (leaves) but had no fruit, ended up dying (Mark 11:13-14, 20).

Jesus came not just to tell us about the Father but to show us the Father and be our Role Model. All that he did, and even all the ways that people reacted to him, are learning opportunities for us. We will see in the next section, for example, how we can learn about the faith that pleases God merely by seeing how people acted toward Jesus.

Is it time for us to learn not just from Jesus’ individual parables but from the fact that our Teacher saw spiritual principles virtually wherever he looked, not only in nature but in social norms (such as weddings) and criminal behavior and even in human technology, such as wineskins (Mark 2:22), the best way to mend clothes (Mark 2:21) and bread making (Luke 13:21)? Does anyone seriously think that Jesus exhausted all the spiritual instruction existing in nature and that all spiritual insights through everyday human events left the planet when Jesus ascended to heaven? He viewed this world through spiritual eyes and he expects his followers to do likewise. Indeed, although the holy Son of God excelled at it, Scripture tells of other anointed people before and after his earthly ministry seeing the only true God communicating in this way. For example:

    Job 12:7-8 But ask the animals, now, and they shall teach you; the birds of the sky, and they shall tell you. Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you. The fish of the sea shall declare to you.

    Proverbs 6:6-8 Go to the ant, you sluggard. Consider her ways, and be wise; which having no chief, overseer, or ruler, provides her bread in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.

    Proverbs 1:17 For in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird

    Jeremiah 8:7 Yes, the stork in the sky knows her appointed times; and the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane observe the time of their coming . . .

    1 Corinthians 9:24 Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win.

    2 Corinthians 9:6  . . . he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

    Galatians 6:7  . . . whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

    Galatians 5:9 A little yeast grows through the whole lump.

Do you see in the following what God, through Paul, is telling the idolatrous pagans who wanted to worship Barnabas and Paul as gods?

    Acts 14:17 Yet he didn’t leave himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you rains from the sky and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

He is saying that what we might think of as natural events are in fact an ongoing revelation of God.

If Jesus not only told parables but created them, and he came to show us the Father, isn’t it logical to suppose that God could deliberately create a parable for you in something that happens in your everyday world? And if many of Jesus’ original hearers missed the full impact of his parables because they were not sufficiently attuned spiritually or didn’t pray and seek God enough about them, isn’t it likely that we, too, could be missing the significance of certain parable-like events that God is playing before our eyes?

My wife and I love walking in the Australian wilderness. I’m inspired by the peace and beauty, and feel thankful to God and close to him as a result. Vicki, however, goes beyond this. She sees, for example, an ancient, gnarly, hollowed out, half-burned tree with limbs missing and knows it has survived droughts, wildfires, storms, insect attacks and parasites. This inspires her to hold on to God and survive no matter what life throws at her. She sees a panoramic view and is reminded of the vastness of God and how much bigger he is than her problems. She sees a spider and is reminded that most people know little about how spiders live and just don’t care. This inspires her to live for God, undeterred by human critics. You might think these are minor revelations. They might not be spectacularly new but in the midst of a severe trial they can be priceless.

I’m beginning to see not only that I need to be more like Vicki in being open to God speaking to me in not so obvious ways but that, surprisingly, this is actually part of being Christlike, since Jesus was continually seeing everyday events as divine teaching opportunities. I’m tempted to despise such things, dismissing them as trivia compared with biblical revelation, but I’m coming to see that this is part of communing with God. Much about young lovers getting to know each other might be dismissed as trivia and yet it is precious to them and achieves much. Then I recall that few people understood Jesus’ parables and that only those who drew close and asked him about them understood their full significance. So it is with receiving divine revelation from everyday events.

Most dreams are similar to parables in that they are commonplace and it is not immediately obvious what, if anything, God is saying. Many of us think it weird enough for God to speak to his children in dreams, even though Scripture insists that divine dreams are a characteristic of our era, ushered in by Jesus ascending to heaven and sending us his Spirit (Acts 2:17). But the Word of God gets even weirder. Have you stopped to think that many of the divine dreams preserved in Scripture were given to people who did not know the true God?

Of course, God gave godly people dreams but when the Lord wanted to encourage Gideon, he arranged for him to overhear an enemy soldier recounting a dream he had, and another enemy soldier interpreted it (Judges 7:10-15). When Abraham, out of fear, claimed his wife was merely his sister, Sarah was in enormous danger. The Lord protected her by giving the heathen king a dream (Genesis 20:3-7). Likewise, God protected Jacob by speaking to Laban in a dream (Genesis 31:24). The Lord used the dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker, and then gave Pharaoh dreams to get Joseph released from prison and exalted in Pharaoh’s court (Genesis 41:8-15). Likewise, in Daniel’s time, God gave significant dreams to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:1; 4:4-5).

If I have enough difficulty mustering faith to believe a dream could be God speaking to me, how could I cope if he chose to follow the scriptural precedent and speak to me through a non-Christian’s dream?

The Holy One spoke through Caiaphas while this enemy of righteousness was in the very act of persuading others to join him in plotting the murder of the Messiah. For a few moments, he was both God’s spokesman and the man who, above everyone else, plotted Jesus’ crucifixion:

    John 11:51-52 Now he didn’t say this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but . . . the children of God who are scattered abroad.

Talk about unlikely places!

The king of idolatrous Egypt sent a message to godly King Josiah, “God has commanded me to make haste. Beware that it is God who is with me, that he not destroy you.” How unlikely does that seem! Nevertheless, the Bible declares that this heathen king was actually speaking God’s message to Josiah. Ignoring this pagan’s claim to be delivering God’s Word, Josiah went to war and was slain (2 Chronicles 35:20-24).

Moses had such an astonishing relationship with God that the Lord says:

    Numbers 12:6-8  . . . Now hear my words. If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known to him in a vision. I will speak with him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so. . . . With him, I will speak mouth to mouth, even plainly, and not in riddles; and he shall see the Lord’s form. . . .

Exodus 33:11 adds that the Lord “spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” and Deuteronomy 34:10 concludes, “Since then, there has not arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”

Nevertheless, this amazing man of God saw such divine wisdom in his father-in-law Jethro (also known as Reuel) that Moses submitted to his guidance (Exodus 18:14-24). Jethro, “a priest of Midian” (Exodus 2:16) was not one of God’s chosen. He was not even a descendant of Abraham. Moses also begged Jethro’s son to guide the Israelites through the wilderness (Numbers 10:29-32). Would I have Moses’ humility and spiritual insight to discern when God is speaking to me through a non-Christian? That’s a challenge I’m worryingly likely to fail. In practice – perhaps even in theory – my concept of God falls short of the God the Bible reveals.

On the other hand, a commander of another heathen army sounded very spiritual when he addressed another godly king, Hezekiah. “Have I come up now without the Lord against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’ ” (Isaiah 36:10). This time what was said was the exact opposite of God’s message.

Discerning God’s voice is starting to seem disturbingly complex, but there is no need for concern. In just a few paragraphs it will begin to become surprisingly simple.

If God can prophesy through someone while that person is arranging the Son of God’s murder, it is obvious that our Lord could seek to speak to us through non-Christians. Clearly, we need prayerful discernment before accepting anything that comes from a non-Christian. Nevertheless, we need prayerful caution even when godly people speak.

It is staggering to realize that the devil can speak through revered Christian leaders and trusted Christian friends. The Bible records the tragic incident in which an old (and therefore experienced and respected) prophet claimed to speak the word of God to a younger prophet. What he said in the name of God was a lie. The young man died as a result of heeding the old prophet (1 Kings 13:1-24).

Our need to be constantly alert to the possibility of the Evil One speaking when least expected, is vividly displayed in Peter the apostle. On one occasion, what he said to Jesus seemed so loving and yet was so much from the Evil One that Jesus had to say, “Get behind me, Satan!” Peter was sincere. He loved God, and Jesus’ welfare was paramount to him, but still he got it seriously wrong. Just a few verses earlier, this very man had received Christ’s high praise for hearing from God (Matthew 16:17-23).

On the surface, the possibility of our Lord speaking through God-haters, and the devil speaking through esteemed Christians seems alarmingly confusing. Nevertheless, we usually instinctively recognize the source. We’re not infallible, but each of us usually gets it right because no matter how strongly one part of us might yearn to sin, God lives inside us.

Let’s examine how this works in practice. Suppose you were about to sin and a God-hating skeptic mocks, “I thought Christians weren’t meant to do that!” Even though you might want to sin so much that you ignore the warning, you would have recognized those words as godly truth that should be heeded. Or suppose you are strongly tempted to commit adultery. You are finding almost irresistible the allure of a highly attractive person in your church. Your trusted, godly pastor asks you to work on a church project that will involve long hours alone with that person. Almost your whole being might seem to cry out, “Yes!” Nevertheless, you would know that this is one of those rare moments when your pastor’s suggestion is too spiritually dangerous to be from God. The pastor was simply using human wisdom, deciding on a course of action without knowing your vulnerability to this person.

When Peter, in all sincerity, said the wrong thing to Jesus, it was because Peter didn’t understand God’s plans. Jesus, however, had heard from God about this matter and so, though Peter’s words were enticing, Christ could immediately recognize Peter’s love-motivated reaction as not being from God.

The young prophet mentioned earlier who made the tragic mistake of accepting the old prophet’s invitation, knew that no matter how enticing the old man’s words, they contradicted what God had already told the young prophet.

The heathen commander, who in part of his message to Hezekiah seemed so spiritual, in other parts of that same message said things that were totally contrary to Scripture (Isaiah 36:7; 2 Kings 18:4,5).

So even in these deceptive cases, discerning what is from God is not as perplexing as it seems.

It is important to realize, however, that God refuses to be straight-jacketed. We have a great tendency to think we have God figured out and subconsciously create little rules such as, ‘God will only speak through Christians’ or, ‘God will always speak through those in authority or, only through those in authority.’ The moment we put limitations on our expectations from God, we are setting ourselves for a fall. The Almighty has deliberately chosen to be unpredictable so that we can be assured of divine guidance, not by following a presumptuous manmade rule, but solely by keeping close to the heart of God. For this reason, I am regularly on the alert for the Lord choosing to surprise me by speaking through someone or something I least expect. It would be just like God, for example, to target my preconceptions or pride by speaking through a child or someone intellectually challenged.

For a little more on this subject, see When Recognizing God Get’s Confusing.

Stubborn Faith

Faith is so critical that despite already mentioning it I cannot shut up about it.

If you don’t believe your efforts to know God will be rewarded by actually knowing him better, your motivation will evaporate. To believe in the God of the Bible is to believe that God loves even his enemies. That means that, no matter who you are, he longs for your fellowship. (For close fellowship, the Holy One must first cleanse us, but through the cross he is more than able to do that, and he yearns for us to let him do it so that we can have that intimacy with him.) God’s love means both that he yearns to reveal more of himself to you and that he is continually seeking to do so. If you fail to believe this, you will dismiss his efforts to reveal himself to you as random events.

Biblical faith is not just about believing, but believing the right thing. If you disregard all the biblical evidence to the contrary and mistakenly believe that God always makes it clear when he is speaking, or that it will always be pleasant, you will miss so much:

    Job 33:14-16 For God does speak – now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings (Emphasis mine, NIV)

For more about biblical examples of disturbing dreams that we might be tempted to dismiss as not being from God, see Nightmares and Unwanted Dreams in the links at the end of this webpage.

Ponder the implications of this:

    Romans 1:19-21 because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. Because, knowing God, they didn’t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened.

    John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world didn’t recognize him.

    1 Corinthians 2:8 which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory.

    Hebrews 13:2  . . . some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Since faith and being motivated are inseparable, consider all the people in the Bible who would have missed out if they had just been a little less motivated and had given in just a little to natural shyness and defeatism. We will look later at people who simply wanted to get as close as possible to Jesus and know him better. Because it is still instructive, however, we will start with women and men who were hoping for healing or deliverance. Like them, we want results, but since what we are seeking – to know God better – differs from them, let’s not be distracted by what their heart was set on. Instead, zero in on what these incidents reveal about the type of faith that wins God’s praise and gets results.


A paralyzed man had no way of getting to Jesus. Rather than resign himself to the impossible, he talked and talked until he had persuaded enough people to carry him to Jesus. When they finally got there, the house was crowded out. Refusing to give in to the hopelessness of the situation, they had the audacity to somehow hoist him onto the roof and then dug a hole in it – not a great way to make yourself popular – and then lowered him through the hole (Mark 2:2-4).


A Canaanite woman, scorned all her life by every self-respecting Jew as a pagan foreigner, seemed to get the same treatment from Jesus. He ignored her pleas, virtually called her a dog and said it wasn’t right to heal her. Pushing aside not only Jesus’ inexplicable behavior but a lifelong history of rejection, she kept on trying. By sheer persistence she not only ended up with the miracle she craved but was publically praised by Jesus for having impressive faith (Matthew 15:22-28).


The father of a demon possessed boy hunted down Jesus’ very disciples, begging them for help. They tried their hardest and failed miserably. Instead of realizing it was impossible and giving up, this desperate father sought out the busy Jesus himself and pleaded for his help. He, too, ended up with what he wanted (Matthew 17:14-16).


A despised beggar kept shouting out to Jesus. Told by the crowd to shut up, he refused to do the dignified thing and comply, but shouted all the louder. He got his miracle.(Mark 10:46-52).


The woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years was unclean. She had no right being in a tightly packed crowd trying to touch a holy man. In any case, weakened by her illness, she could hardly expect to compete with all the healthier people jostling for a position close to Jesus who, (why not add another complication?) was on an urgent mission to get to a dying girl. Like all the others I’ve mentioned, no matter how impossible it seemed, she kept trying. Despite everything and everyone seeming to be against her, she forced her way to Jesus and got her miracle.

By recording such instances over and over in his Word, do you get what God is so keen for us to see? Faith isn’t about mental gymnastics or screwing up your face until you burst a blood vessel. It’s simply refusing to give up, no matter how tempting it is to conclude that not just circumstances but the Almighty himself, who could change circumstances in the blink of an eye, must be against you.

Consider all the Apostle Paul’s humiliations, floggings, stonings, foiled plans (Scriptures), and opposition from people in the church (Scriptures). You might dismiss some of these trials as opposition from anti-God forces but add to this list Paul’s four shipwrecks. Perhaps all, but certainly the shipwreck we know the most about, was because of a storm (Acts 27:18-20, 41). In the light of Jesus calming the sea (Luke 8:24), the biblical affirmation that the Almighty “has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm” (Nahum 1:3 – note also Psalm 107:23-29) and that he used a storm to prevent Jonah from sailing away from God’s calling, it would be so easy to fall into despair by mistakenly interpreting such events as signs of divine disapproval, or at least indifference. But despite all sorts of opposition, Paul drudged on.

Great faith does not mean an end to dark times when everything and everyone in hell, heaven and earth seems to be against you. Great faith means slogging on regardless; stubbornly holding on to the conviction that nothing – not “oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword . . . nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing” (Romans 8:35-39) – can mean that God has stopped loving you or has given up on you.

Faith is trusting in Jesus’ righteousness and not in your own attempts as sufficient for you to have divine approval. It is refusing to resign yourself to receiving anything less than all the wonderful things God wants you to enjoy. It is being so convinced that God’s way is always best that you are unshakably committed to obeying and honoring him. No matter how great the agony, you join your Savior in saying, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). And because God is good and you do not resist him but let him do everything he wants in your life, he purifies you, believes in you and has good plans for you, no matter how much evidence to the contrary seems to pile up.

I do not say this lightly: rather than being indicators that you are second class; silences, hindrances and delays are divine invitations to enter into heaven’s hall of fame, just like the very ordinary but inspirationally persistent women and men mentioned above.

Let’s now consider examples of people who had no agenda. They simply wanted to be close to Jesus and spend quality time with him.


Zacchaeus, too despised by the crowd for anyone to let him through, and too short to peer over them, ended up not just seeing Jesus, but having him as his personal guest in his home eating with him. Why? Because he was so desperate to see Jesus that he refused to surrender to all the hindrances, and kept searching until he finally found a way, even though it meant being willing to look like a fool by climbing a tree (Luke 19:2-6).


Someone actually got to physically touch the Son of God for quite some time and to be publicly honored by him. To achieve this, she had to be so desperate to be close to Jesus that she not only gatecrashed a party where she knew the host and his friends despised her (Luke 7:39) but to literally let down her hair and humiliate herself by crying in public, with her snotty nose next to Jesus’ unwashed feet (Luke 7:44) that had walked in open sandals on streets that were not only dusty but strewn with little gifts from donkeys, camels, hens, goats, sheep and who knows what else.


Another woman, too, was so desperate to get close to Jesus and learn from him that she risked the wrath of her sister, Martha, to sit at Jesus’ feet and drink in his every word. She, too, ended up publically defended by the Son of God (Luke 10:39-42).

Inspired by the Canaanite woman whom Jesus exalted as a role model for faith, we need to decide we want a closer walk with God so much that we refuse to take every apparent no for an answer. That’s why I emphasize being passionate.

It is not that biblical faith is selfish or argumentative; it is convinced of God’s kindness, goodness and generosity and that God delights in us building muscle on our faith by pushing through obstacles. Our persistence makes God proud.

Of course, if our Lord truly means no, as he did with Jesus in the garden and to Paul with his thorn in the flesh, faith yields, confident that God’s way is best, but it refuses to yield to signs that merely masquerade as a divine no. Notice that in the incidents just mentioned, Jesus and Paul took so much convincing that God’s ‘no’ really meant no that both of them sought God over it not once, not twice, but three times (Matthew 26:44; 2 Corinthians 12:8).

For a little more about ‘no’ not meaning no, see God is a Tease?

Too often, however, instead of seeing beyond all the oppressive circumstances and silences and apparent rebuffs, we mistakenly presume that they reflect God’s heart. When we think that way, instead of pushing through, we will give in to the obstacles and so rob ourselves of the blessings God has prepared for us. Then we have the audacity to take our refusal to break through into all that God wants for us as divine proof that we were right and that God did not want to bless us!

Most of us tragically miss out on far too much, simply because we are too easily tricked into believing the lie that God treats us as second class Christians or that he is stingy.

God is a rewarder, not of those who cave in to laziness or defeatism, nor of those who convince themselves that God is stingy or prejudiced against them; he is a rewarder of those who, by stubbornly clinging to the truth that God is love and is good, are sufficiently driven to keep pushing through. By having a high view of God’s love, generosity and goodness, they not only honor God but eventually end up with concrete evidence of his love, generosity and goodness.

Faith is believing that when God seems to be standoffish and to treat us as inferior to other people, that no matter how convincing it seems, God isn’t like that. And this is the faith that causes us to know God better.

Other Ingredients in Knowing God

I have saved these until last, not because they are less important, but because I have decided not to say a lot about them here. Some don’t need much explanation but others are so important that I have written extensively on them elsewhere – too much to repeat here.

Prayerfully Read his Word

You can see from how often I quote it, how highly I esteem the Bible:

    Job 23:12  . . . I have treasured up the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

    Psalm 119:99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.

I cling to the Bible as if my life depended on it, because my life – even my eternity – does indeed depend upon correctly interpreting it. Finding spiritual truth is like walking through a minefield that someone has successfully crossed. Relevant Bible passages are like faint signs scattered around, indicating the only proven safe route. Get it wrong, and you might survive, or you might be blown up. The more passages you find that line up, the more confident you can be. The Bible uses a slightly different but similar metaphor:

    Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.

Nevertheless, earlier in this section I had to stress the need to remain humbly aware of our own ignorance. Ironically, priding ourselves in our Bible knowledge can close us off from the God of the Bible. Here’s what Jesus said to Bible-lovers who were sure they were honoring God by rejecting the Messiah that their favorite Scriptures spoke about:

    John 5:37-40 The Father himself . . . has testified about me. You have neither heard his voice at any time . . . “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me. Yet you will not come to me, that you may have life.

To avoid stupefying deception, we must remember this when reading God’s Word:

    Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it . . .

    Psalm 119:100 I understand more than the aged, because I have kept your precepts.

    James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not only hearers, deluding your own selves.

    (Emphasis mine.)

“This is the one I esteem,” says Isaiah 66:2 (NIV), “he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

An obviously critical biblical directive we must obey is to love God and people:

    1 John 4:8 He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love.

    1 Corinthians 8:1  . . . Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

    1 Corinthians 13:2 If I . . . know all mysteries and all knowledge . . . but don’t have love, I am nothing.

    Galatians 6:3 For if a man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

    (Emphasis mine.)

Although, to avoid deception, spiritual knowledge must be accompanied with the right attitude, the primary way God reveals himself is through Scripture. Over and over he tells us in his Word to keep reading and meditating on it. For those too lazy to do this, our Lord offers no alternative.

The Bible is the one and only divinely authorized account of every significant revelation of God ever given to humanity. Of course, God often speaks to individuals, but what he says is either personal directions that do not apply to the rest of us, or are just a repeat of biblical revelation.

Since correct interpretation is both critical and challenging, please see the Spiritual Essentials for Accurate Bible Interpretation link at the end of this webpage.

Seek to Know God Better and Specifically Pray for it

    Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you shall seek the Lord your God, and you shall find him, when you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

    James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. . . .

    Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

    Psalm 119:34          Give me understanding . . .
    Psalm 119:73    . . . Give me understanding . . .
    Psalm 119:125  . . . Give me understanding . . .
    Psalm 119:144  . . . Give me understanding . . .
    Psalm 119:169   . . . Give me understanding . . .

    Psalm 119:12   . . . Teach me . . .
    Psalm 119:26   . . . Teach me . . .
    Psalm 119:33         Teach me . . .
    Psalm 119:64   . . . Teach me . . .
    Psalm 119:66         Teach me . . .
    Psalm 119:68   . . . Teach me . . .
    Psalm 119:108  . . . Teach me . . .
    Psalm 119:124  . . . Teach me . . .
    Psalm 119:135  . . . Teach me . . .

And this is by someone who was already so inspired that he was actually writing Scripture.

“I have not stopped giving thanks for you . . . I keep asking that . . . God . . . may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:16-17, NIV, emphasis mine).

Praise and Worship

I include in this category thanking God – which is more important than you might realize (Scriptures) – and delighting and rejoicing in him – which are also emphasized in God’s Word (Scriptures).

I earlier glossed over this exciting Scripture:

    2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face seeing the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory . . .

It is clear from this verse that the benefits of “seeing the glory of the Lord” are profound but how, in practical terms, do we “see” the glory of God? I believe that the most powerful way is through praise and worship.

I ache to tell you of all the wonders of praise and worship but until you soar to its pinnacles, it is like trying to describe a glorious sunset to someone who has been locked away in a pitch black dungeon all his life and does not even know what it is to see anything. If, in your longings for an eternity in heaven, being lost in worship does not predominate, I pity you. It makes you like a child thinking the best part of a honeymoon is eating the wedding cake.

Praise and worship almost literally transport you to heaven. They remove the distractions that keep you from focusing on the Lord of glory and empower you to take your mind off yourself and worldly matters and “Set your mind on the things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). They blow away the smog of negativity that darken and distort our view of the Lord. They magnify God so that we see more of him than ever before.

At times, praise and worship will seem dry and artificial but regardless of what in the short term they do for us, the mere fact that we persist makes our efforts precious to God. Moreover, when it comes from a genuine desire to delight our Lord, as we keep persisting in praise and worship it connects our heart to God’s heart, building a two-way channel of communication that opens unlimited possibilities.

Prayer in General

    Deuteronomy 4:7  . . . our God is near us whenever we pray to him (NIV).

    Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all those who call on him . . . in truth.

Obviously, prayer is a most important way of maintaining conscious contact with God, and if time spent with someone is critical for getting to know a person, so it is with God. Keeping in contact with God this way, however, can be challenging. For many valuable hints as to how to make communing with God easier and more enjoyable, see Prayer Secrets: How to Make Prayer Exciting in the links at the end of this webpage.

Maintaining an Awareness of God’s Presence

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things,” (Colossians 3:2, NIV) is invaluable advice. Regretfully, it is much easier to do when, for example, watching sheep in the first century than when multitasking in a twenty-first century office. We live longer these days but the demands on our attention mean that the total time available to be aware of God seems to have been dramatically shrinking, rather than increasing. Most of us manage it for a few minutes a day but, without wanting to, we almost forget God for the rest of the day. Is there any way to stretch that time by bringing our awareness of God into our working life? It’s far from easy but I provide suggestions in the link Practicing the Presence of God in Modern Times at the end of this webpage.

Spiritual Fellowship with Christians

Befriending the lonely can comfort them and so please God. Apart from that, talking even with Christians about trivia rarely achieves much. In contrast, Christ-centered fellowship is of eternal value.

    Malachi 3:16-18 Then those who feared the Lord spoke one with another; and the Lord listened, and heard, and a book of memory was written before him, for those who feared the Lord, and who honored his name. They shall be mine,” says the Lord of Armies, “my own possession in the day that I make, and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.

    Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the middle of them.

    Acts 2:46-47 Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God . . .


Avail yourself of Bible Teachers, etc

    Ephesians 4:11-15 He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ

Stirring the Ingredients

The recipe for knowing God better and better is complete. All it takes now is to mix the ingredients, ensuring that nothing is left out. We will soon see the importance of not omitting any. For your convenience, however, I will first gather them so that you can see them all in a single glance. This is appropriate, now that you have a clear idea of what each involves. As you thoughtfully scan them, I would like you to ponder whether they all fit into one or two broad categories.

    [*] Genuinely wanting to please God

    [*] Keep reminding yourself of how little you know

    [*] Asking God questions

    [*] Being passionate about God

    [*] Using Feelings to Foster our Relationship with God

    [*] Resting in God

    [*] Being brutally honest with God

    [*] Journaling

    [*] Looking for God in unlikely places

    [*] Stubborn Faith

    [*] Prayerfully reading his Word

    [*] Seeking to know God better and specifically praying for it

    [*] Praise and worship

    [*] Prayer in general

    [*] Maintaining an awareness of God’s presence

    [*] Spiritual Fellowship with Christians

    [*] Availing yourself of Bible teachers, etc

Despite this webpage being about knowing God, it could just as easily be titled The Essentials for a Fruitful Life. That’s because a fruitful life and continually knowing God better are inseparable. Also worth noting is that most of the ingredients in the recipe are either important ways of spending quality time with God or encouragement to increase our motivation and intensify our efforts to interact with him more often. That’s hardly surprising: it is how we get to know anyone.

As there are facets of God that take on a special hue because of all his other facets, so it is with the elements required to know God better. I should give a couple of examples. Consider what faith looks like in the light of what we have said about yearning to please God. Without this mellowing influence, faith could almost turn ugly.

Jesus grants us the honor of praying in his name, but do we take to heart what this means? To act in someone’s name is to act as his representative. It’s a grave responsibility because to act foolishly or immorally in his name is to blacken his name, damaging his reputation.

Like Jesus agonizing with God in the garden, faith is surrendering to God. It is saying, “Nevertheless, your will be done, not mine.” It is stubbornly persisting with one’s determination to not settle for less than God’s best; never an attempt to get your own way at the expense of God’s best. Faith must never be confused with manipulating God, forcing his hand or making him do anything he is genuinely reluctant to do (rather than something he merely seems reluctant to do). Trying to use faith and prayer to get our own way at the expense of God’s best might be some form of witchcraft (regardless of whether we tack Jesus’ name on the end of it) but it is by no means Christian.

Another thing I should stress that, left unbalanced, could look unappealing is what we have said about passion. Without faith, passion could degenerate into a works program. In fact, even faith itself will become works if we lose sight of truly biblical faith. Faith is responding to God’s initiative. It might not feel that way, but we come to Jesus only because God draws us (John 6:44; Luke 10:22; 1 John 5:20). Faith gets results because it empowers us to receive what God wants for us. And because of this, faith is resting in God, not wrestling with him.

Wrap Up

In these two webpages we have touched on subjects so vast that massive libraries should be devoted to them.

We have seen that knowing the heart of God is something to boast about and revel in. Knowing God with ever-increasing depth is not only the most thrilling and fulfilling aspect of eternal life, it is the very thing that creates an infinitely superior life.

The boundless Lord is overwhelmingly immense, not only in his power, and his love, and his holiness but also in his complexity. In short, there are endless depths to God that defy any human mind to grasp. Nevertheless, we must keep seeking to honor him by fighting our tendency to oversimplify him even more than our human limitations make necessary. Instead, we should continually seek to expand our view of him, not merely as an intellectual exercise but through deep, spiritual connection.

Weigh up Scriptures like the following and see if you agree that with God, you get what you settle for:

    Hebrews 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.

    Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you shall seek the Lord your God, and you shall find him, when you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

    James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. . . .

    Luke 18:5-7 “. . . yet because this widow bothers me, I will defend her, or else she will wear me out by her continual coming.”
    The Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says. Won’t God avenge his chosen ones, who are crying out to him day and night, and yet he exercises patience with them?

If we are content with a shallow understanding of God, that’s what we will end up with. As I explained earlier, however, if ignorance is bliss, it’s the bliss that leads to tragedy.

I can find no better way of ending than by quoting from another webpage of mine:

    Let’s intensify our passion for discovering all we can about God and gaining deeper insight into why life’s greatest adventure centers on continually growing in our intimate understanding of the most beautiful Person in existence. Like a babe’s knowledge of its mother, our knowledge of God can be warm, intimate, fulfilling and continually growing but there still remains much beyond our capacity to understand. Our lack of understanding can at times be frustrating, as it sometimes is for children not understanding adult wisdom, tastes, and so on. Growing in our knowledge and understanding of God, however, should be as exciting as lovers getting to know each other.

    The Almighty is so much bigger than us that the never-ending challenge is to keep bursting the confines of our own hang-ups and narrow human thinking and shallow reading of Scripture. We need daring humility, a courageous passion for reality, and a yearning for divine intimacy if we are to continually expand our understanding of God to include more and more of the full biblical revelation of who God is.

    Even a brief meditation on the following Scriptures will affirm that our highest calling and life’s most thrilling adventure is to know God as intimately and as fully and as accurately as humanly possible.

      Romans 1:21-22 Because, knowing God, they didn’t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools

      Jeremiah 9:24  . . . let him who glories glory in this, that he has understanding, and knows me . . .

      John 17:3 This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

    Let’s pray:

      Dear Lord,
      The magnificence of your glory, the perfection of your ways, the depths of your intellect, the scope of your powers, the vastness of your love, and every other aspect of your nature, far exceed human comprehension. Nevertheless, relative to what we are capable of grasping, we do not want to settle for a hazy or inadequate or even fanciful view of you. We want to know the real you. To know you is to love you, and to love you is to want to know you more.

      If we have misunderstood you or limited you, leaving ourselves with feelings for you that are colder than you deserve, we ask that you melt our hearts with a deeper revelation of who you really are. If you are more wonderful, more beautiful, more desirable, more thrilling, more lovable than we realize, we ask that you open our eyes to see you more fully.

      We ask you to explode any blockages that our past hurts or prejudices or worldliness or small thinking might have created. We want you to captivate our hearts, taking us on a never-ending journey of discovery of the breathtaking beauty of your heart.


I have a vast number of other webpages, but these are particularly relevant to this topic.

God’s Goodness

The Fear of God

Receiving a Deeper Revelation of God’s Astonishing Love for You

Spiritual Secrets: Insights into Dying to Self

God’s Will For You: More Wonderful Than You Could Imagine!

Divine Perfection

Plurality Within a Member of the Trinity

Feminine Attributes to God?

God’s Gender

Why God’s Wrath is Comforting

Receive More Spiritual Revelation

The Spiritual Essentials for Accurate Bible Interpretation

Prayer Secrets: How to Make Prayer Exciting

Practicing the Presence of God in Modern Times

The Thrilling Mystery of Hearing from God

Creativity: Exquisite Partnership with the Divine

Nightmares and Unwanted Dreams

The Most Tortured Conscience Can Find Peace

Christian Insights into Martyrdom and Persecution

Spiritual Wonders, Divine Mysteries, Christian Revelation

[Many Other Topics] [Daily Quotes] [Bless & Be Blessed by Facebook] [E-Mail Me] [My Shame]

Not to be sold. © Copyright, Grantley Morris, 2017. For much more by the same author, see   No part of these writings may be copied without citing this entire paragraph.


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