Christians so often ask, “How can I know the will of God?” We want to know His will. We need to know it if we’re going to live the abundant life He has for us. But to know His will, we must know God Himself—and not just head knowledge. We must know His ways.
You will never know stability and victory in your life without knowing God the Father, the Lord Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit intimately. To find His will, ask yourself, “Do I know Him? Do I know His ways?
When you know His ways, it follows as night follows day, you’ll know His will. And—good news—God wants you to know Him intimately.
There are two levels of knowing God, two levels of knowledge about Him:
Know God’s works, what He does,
Or know God’s ways, who He is.
Some of us only know God’s works. We don’t know His ways. The Israelites were like that. As they came out of Egypt, they’d witnessed His works up close—the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. They were infatuated with this miracle-working God, but they didn’t know Him intimately.
They were eager to get on their way to Canaan, their Promised Land, but because of their sinfulness, God was about to remove His presence from them. He proposed in Exodus 33 to send them on with Moses without Him. Only an angel would accompany them.
But Moses wasn’t willing to settle for that. He faced a huge undertaking, leading God’s people through the wilderness to Canaan. So much was unforeseen, unknown, Moses says “No, Lord!” in a heartfelt plea:
“12 And Moses said unto the Lord, “See, Thou sayest unto Me, ‘Bring up this people,’ and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, ‘I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight: and consider that this nation is Thy people…. 15 If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
Moses had already seen plenty of God’s works, so he says, “Lord, I’ve got a gigantic task to do. I must know Your ways.” Moses’ great prayer needs to be the prayer of each of us.
How did God respond?
“And He said, ‘My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.’” (v. 14)
“He made known His ways unto Moses, and His acts unto the children of Israel” (Psalm 103:7).
The difference between knowing God’s works and knowing God’s ways is the difference between rest and relapse.
Israel found no rest in the wilderness even though they “saw My works forty years” (Hebrews 3:9). They only saw what God did. “So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest” (v. 11). But Moses knew something the rest of Israel did not know. He had insight into God’s character. Moses knew God’s ways.
Those of us who know God’s ways are going to live in rest. Knowing His ways will bring peace to your troubled world. And God knows we face a troubled world.
The difference between rest and turmoil is the difference between observing and obedience.
If you don’t have the blessing of peace and rest, I must tell you, there is no blessing without obedience.
Many people are not living in blessing. Why do we not obey? Why is our obedience so poor? Because we do not fully trust God.
You cannot trust someone you do not know. And you cannot fully know them if all you see is their works but don’t know their ways. Why is there is very little love? Because there is very little knowledge; there’s no intimacy. You have to know their ways in order to love them. You have to love them to trust them. When you love someone, you do trust them. And you must trust them to obey them. It’s progressive: one leads to the next.
If all you see are the works of God, then you don’t have that intimacy. But when you know the ways of God, to know Him is to love Him, to love Him is to trust Him, to trust Him is to obey Him, and to obey Him is to be blessed.
My wife, Joyce, and I have known each other since we were in grade school. At first, we only knew each other by what we did—we knew each other’s works. But as our relationship grew, we began to know each other’s ways. Now that we’ve been together for many years, Joyce knows my ways intimately and I know hers. I trust her completely. If she asked me to do something for her, I would say yes before I even knew what it was, because I trust her, and I know she would never ask me to do anything that would be wrong or harmful to me. This is the intimacy we must have with God before we can know His ways.
The difference between knowing God’s works and knowing God’s ways is the difference between infatuation and true love (intimacy).
Some people ask, “Does God have favorites?” I don’t believe God has favorites, but I do believe He has intimates—people who know Him intimately. So many people don’t know God intimately. All they see are His works. They don’t know His ways. Their relationship is just infatuation, not genuine spiritual love.
Moses knew the ways of God because he had that intimate relationship. “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Ex. 33:11).
The difference between knowing God’s works and knowing God’s ways is the difference between peace and panic.
At the Red Sea, Moses was the only one who didn’t panic. Everybody else panicked because all they could see was what was happening. They didn’t know His ways. If all you see are the works of God, then when the works of God don’t work out as you think they should, you push the panic button.
We need to know God in such a way that come thick or thin, good or bad, we can say, “Though You slay me, yet will I trust You, Lord, because I know Your ways.”
How can you know the ways of God?
First, let me tell you how you will not know the ways of God: through human reasoning or ingenuity. In Isaiah 55:8-9, God says:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,” [now watch this] “neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking God’s ways are like your ways or God’s thoughts like your thoughts. Your thoughts are never going to reveal to you God’s ways. His ways are always mysterious.
“Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known” (Psalms 77:19). God walks on the water, but you will never see His footprints there.
How will you know God? Not by seeing God part the Red Sea. Not by observation. Not by looking around. His ways are above our ways. Not by human ingenuity. Not by reasoning. Moses learned the ways of God through intimate, face to face time with Him. This is how, where and when God reveals His ways to you.
11 “the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend..." 14 “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” (Exodus 33).
When we learn to seek God’s face and not His hand, we will know His ways and find rest for our souls. Frankly, that’s what a quiet time is all about. You can’t know someone if you don’t spend time with them. As you spend time with Him, He begins to manifest Himself to you, and you begin to know His ways.
When you know God intimately, there is serenity. You know His will. Peace comes into your life. God gives you rest. There is stability. There is sufficiency. And you learn, no matter how bad the problem, not only is God necessary, God is enough.