Mystic Moments: Rending the Veil

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Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter at all to look upon God?…. What doth hinder us?

It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated. It is the close- woven veil of the self-life which we have never truly acknowledged, of which we have been secretly ashamed, and which for these reasons we have never brought to the judgment of the cross.  This veil is not a beautiful thing….It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.

To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them. The grosser manifestations of these sins, egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion, are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy.  Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.

Self can live unrebuked at the very altar. It can watch the bleeding Victim die and not be in the least affected by what it sees. It can fight for the faith of the Reformers and preach eloquently the creed of salvation by grace, and gain strength by its efforts. To tell all the truth, it seems actually to feed upon orthodoxy and is more at home in a Bible Conference than in a tavern. Our very state of longing after God may afford it an excellent condition under which to thrive and grow.

Self is the opaque veil that hides the Face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction. As well try to instruct leprosy out of our system. There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment. We must prepare ourselves for an ordeal of suffering in some measure like that through which our Saviour passed when He suffered under Pontius Pilate.

Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life in hope ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust. We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life, and then reckon it crucified. But we must be careful to distinguish lazy ’acceptance’ from the real work of God. We must insist upon the work being done.

Insist that the work be done in very truth and it will be done. The cross is rough, and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the Presence of the living God.

A.W. Tozer

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Poor in Spirit: Satan Part 6

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I often hear from Christians who state that if they were presently being blessed they would then submit to God.  Because life is too hard for them they find it hard to be poor in spirit.  I cannot find support for their complaint from Scripture.  In fact, the New Testament starts at the default station in life of being impoverished and without the material blessings of God.   So, when Christ commanded His disciples to be poor in spirit He was addressing men who had no jobs, no home, and no security.  They followed Christ everywhere and were supported by friends of Jesus’ ministry.  There were no perfect conditions for the disciples to operate from.  They only had Jesus.  When we look at Satan in the following passage note how good it was for him.  Much better than anything we could have here on earth…and yet he rebelled against God:

You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you.  On the day you were created they were prepared.  You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there.  You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.  You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.   (Ezekiel 28:12-15, NASB)

Satan had it all before his fall.  He was perfect, full of wisdom, and beautiful.  He experienced the Garden of Eden in the pre-fall condition.  He shined as all precious stones beautifully arrayed as God’s creation.  It appears Satan was the worship leader in heaven – could you imagine that?  Maybe that is why secular music is such a big problem for people?  Satan was perfect in all his ways; everything was in his favor.  He had no worries and no issues…and yet he fell from heaven and took a third of the angels with him.  So the answer to submission, to be poor in spirit, is not just the blessing.  The answer to submission is to just submit.  Blessing will follow.  Not necessarily material blessings but most definitely heavenly blessing.  We cannot let circumstances in our lives dictate our decision, especially the decision to work on becoming what Christ called us to be – poor in spirit.

Meditate on the following passages from the Word of God and pray how you can apply them to your life:

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.   (Matthew 6:33, Amplified)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-4, NASB) 

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.  (1 Peter 1:6-9, NASB) 

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]  (John 16:33, Amplified)

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Romans 5:3-5, NASB) 

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:35-39, NASB)

 

Teleios: Love – the Perfect Bond of Unity

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Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another.  Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.  Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.  (Colossians 3:12-14)

This passage is addressed to Christians with two commands to “put on” or clothing ourselves with Christian character that comes with the sanctification process.  As Christians we first must recognize where we stand in relationship with our Father.  We are chosen, holy (set apart for Him), and loved by God.  This is foundational to our daily walk.  We begin chosen, holy and loved.  Then growth can begin.  The process to teleios can then be set in motion day by day in our daily submission to the will of God, being shaped by our life experiences and the work of the Holy Spirit.  Remember who you are: chosen, holy and loved.

Our growth should be towards the character of compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience.  What is not to like in these character traits?  Do you want to be that person?  You can be that person.  These are all the character of Christ, and Christlikeness is the goal of sanctification.  Embrace the process because God wants to work in you to perfection (teleios).

This growth, this Christian maturity, should manifest itself in our forgiveness of one another as Christ did for us – fully.  There is no partial forgiveness in the kingdom of God.  We are to forgive fully, just as Christ forgave us fully.  Do you want to be this person, the one who forgives fully?  Embrace the process and grow into that person.  Remember you are chosen, holy, and loved of God.  Remember He wants to work in you to bring you to perfection and Christlikeness.

Above all should be telling us something; this sounds important.  Paul is carrying on the figure of putting on as a garment all the qualities spoken of in verses 12 and 13, and he exhorts the Colossian saints to put on over these, love as the binding factor, which will hold them together and make them usable. The most vital character to be built in the life of a Christian is God’s love.  This sounds like the Biblical goal of sanctification because God is love as shown to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  Jesus Christ is God’s love in action.  If Christlikeness is the goal, then love is what it looks like in deed.  What is God’s will for you?  To be Christlike manifesting love for one another.

Why?  The perfect bond of unity.  The bond is what binds things together, and the power which unites and holds together all these virtues is God’s perfection, teleios, completeness, full growth, maturity.  How completely divine love is fused with the other virtues as it binds them together into one harmonious whole and makes them usable.  Community, the bond, is important to the Lord.  Unity is what perfect unity looks like.

Waiting: Wandering from The Truth

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

If one wanders from the truth he will know this by waiting on God with great hope.

Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.  (James 5:19-20, NKJV)

James ends his epistle with this statement, which shows the emphasis he wanted to make.  The truth is to be sought, taught, and caught (applied).  Brethren is used because James wanted to express the concern of one family member for another in the application of the truth, and one’s straying from it.  James did not want any of the disciples to which he wrote to wander from the truth and placed a brotherly burden, care, and concern on those who saw a wandering soul to act on the behalf of the family of God’s children.  Do you consider other Christians your family?  Will you do what it takes to bring a family member back to the truth?  Wait upon the Lord and ask Him to develop this passion in you by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. 

If anyone among you wanders from the truth.  This makes it clear there is danger of wandering from the truth when once in possession of it.  Truth attained is good, but truth applied is essential to the believer.  To wander is to be seduced and lead astray.  The focus of those that wander is towards some sort of error.  A disciple should be seeking truth and spend time waiting in God’s word to prevent such error.  Be on the lookout for straying brethren. 

And someone turns him back.  The duty of the brethren is to turn a fellow believer away from error and back to truth in a loving, Christlike fashion.  When we find ourselves in a situation when a brother or sister is in error we should approach the situation with prayer and great discernment.  Remember a sin against the Lord is a sin against the body of Christ to which you are a part.  We should apply the principles Jesus taught in Matthew 18:15-17:

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.”  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  (NASB) 

He who turns a sinner from the error of his way.  This plainly teaches you can turn a sinner from the error he is following towards the truth.  Personally, I would focus on the word of truth with the power of the Holy Spirit to bring the sinner to repentance.  Somebody should attempt to turn the wandering soul and there is nobody better than you who wait upon God for His discernment and direction in all matters.

Will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.  The reward of your brotherly concern is to reconcile a brother to God and to the brethren.  The reward is well worth the risk.

Prayerfully read and meditate upon the following passage, waiting on the Lord to make it a part of your character to apply it to your life and ministry:

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  (2 Corinthians 5:18-21, NASB)

Mystic Moments: In Humbleness, Give Thanks

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Let our whole body, then, be preserved in, Christ Jesus; and let everyone be subject to his neighbor, according to the special gift bestowed upon him.  Let the strong not despise the weak, and let the weak show respect unto the strong.  Let the rich man provide for the wants of the poor; and let the poor man bless God, because He hath given him one by whom his need may be supplied.  Let the wise man display his wisdom, not by [mere] words, but through good deeds. Let the humble not bear testimony to himself, but leave witness to be borne to him by another.  Let him that is pure in the flesh not grow proud of it, and boast, knowing that it was another who bestowed on him the gift of continence.  Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were made, — who and what manner of beings we came into the world, as it were out of a sepulcher, and from utter darkness.  He who made us and fashioned us, having prepared His bountiful gifts for us before we were born, introduced us into His world.  Since, therefore, we receive all these things from Him, we ought for everything to give Him thanks; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  – St. Clement

Poor in Spirit: Satan Part 5

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Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is a match for you.  By your wisdom and understanding you have acquired riches for yourself and have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries.  By your great wisdom, by your trade you have increased your riches and your heart is lifted up because of your riches.  (Ezekiel 28:3-5, NASB) 

When man trusts in himself he has created fool’s wisdom to be his guide.  In our passage Satan uses his wisdom to become rich.  These riches in turn made his heart to be lifted up in pride; it was pride because becoming rich was done by no other source than through his own wisdom.  True wisdom comes from God and leads to true riches.  The man who is poor in spirit has godly wisdom from the source of all knowledge – the living God

Because Satan, or the man or woman who is not poor in spirit, has the world’s riches his heart is lifted up – why?  Because when a person has riches not from the Lord he or she is tempted to find his or her security, their sense of worth, and/or his or her master in riches.  There is nothing wrong with riches if you are a good steward of what God has given you.  But when your riches control you then you are controlled by something other than God.  With the Lord no longer in control you cease to be poor in spirit and pride develops in your heart.

And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?  Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.  Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  (Luke 12:42-44, NASB) 

Ezekiel 28:6-10 describes the judgment placed upon Satan for his sin of pride.  We need to examine ourselves and avoid the same fate.

Meditate upon the following Scriptures and pray how to apply them to your life: 

Of what use is money in the hand of a [self-confident] fool to buy skillful and godly Wisdom – when he has no understanding or heart for it?  (Proverbs 17:16, Amplified)

Wisdom is the focus of the perceptive, but a fool’s eyes roam to the ends of the earth.  (Proverbs 17:24, HCSB) 

Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool.  (Ecclesiastes 10:3, NASB) 

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.  (Matthew 6:24, NKJV)

As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasures and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit.  (Matthew 13:22, Amplified) 

As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be proud and arrogant and contemptuous of others, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God…  (1 Timothy 6:17, Amplified)

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:19-21, NASB)

Teleios: Perfected in Love

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Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God.   And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.  In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world.  There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment.  So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.  We love because He first loved us.  (1 John 4:15-19, emphasis added)

In this passage we find that the love has been perfected and is perfect.  In other words, love is completed as to its mission amongst the redeemed; nothing needs to be added to love – the will of God has been accomplished. What has perfect love accomplished?  What does this look like in the life of the believer?

Love is perfected with us (or among us in other translations).  Because love is perfected through our Savior we are His.  This is a love shared amongst community.  We are saved from wrath individually, but we experience this love within community.  This is love perfected with us.  Love is only experienced in relationship and God’s will is that we experience love with Him and with one another in community.

Perfect love drives out fear.  The believer stands redeemed, his or her ransom being paid.  As such there is no fear of punishment for his or her sin.  Love accomplished that.  Love keeps us there.  From our standpoint this is perfect love – a redeeming love.  From God’s perspective this is also perfect love – a restoration of His perfect will, an intimate relationship with His creation.  When the believer realizes this love from all views, the perfect love of God is more fully understood and experienced.

Why?  How?  There is perfection in love because He first loved us.  Everything good comes from the love of the Father.  Only He can love perfectly.  Only He can perfect/complete love in us.

Waiting: Do Not Lie Against the Truth

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

Do not lie against the truth while waiting on God with great hope.

But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  (James 3:14-16, NKJV)

To boast against and lie against the truth is an evil occurrence and is contrary to Christian character and is a warning sign of a big problem.  When something is wrong it needs a fix.  In this passage drawn from James, he is comparing heavenly wisdom to earthly wisdom.  These verses show the fruits of earthly wisdom.

If you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts.  Bitter envy and self-seeking are the twin sinful acts which indicate a flaw in your character and signal our growth in developing character has stalled.  Envy and self-seeking are the result of putting our own sinful desires ahead of the self-sacrificial example we have in Jesus Christ.  When our eyes turn towards self we are not walking after the truth revealed to us.  As slaves of the Lord we are to serve His wishes and fulfill His pleasures.  To rebel against our Master is to seek the will of ourselves.  We have a good Master who wants the best for us.  As we wait upon God we surrender our will to the hands of the Master who leads us into all truth, to live by it, for our benefit and for His glory.

Do not boast and lie against the truth.  The fruit of our envy and self-seeking is we are boasting against and lying against the truth.  If we are walking according to the Spirit of truth our fruit will be love for the Savior and love for man.  To boast and lie against the truth is to have perverted love for the self, which is not love at all.  As you wait upon God allow the Spirit of truth to test your character to see if it is contrary to the truth.

This wisdom does not descend from above.  However we may justify envy and self-seeking we can be sure this is not godly behavior.  God is self-sacrificing and is love.  The Father’s wisdom, His truth, leads His children to a life of benevolence to other men and woman and not a self-serving life driven by his or her own selfish desires.  As you wait upon the Lord ask Him to work in your heart to place His desire and will into you and the empowerment to live the life of self-sacrifice and service towards others.  Wait upon God and ask Him to fill your life with the wisdom that comes from above, that comes from the Father.

But is earthly, sensual, demonic.  The source of this wisdom not from above is earthly, sensual, and demonic.  Earthly is belonging to the earth or attached to it.  As citizens of heaven our attachment should not be to the earth but to the Redeemer who redeemed us.  Sensual is natural, as in human nature.  The old man is the natural man and the new man is the spiritual man.  The disciple lives after the Spirit and not after the flesh.  Demonic is belonging to the devil.  We belong to the Father and should behave as His child would.  Wait upon the Lord and check your heart for earthly, sensual, and demonic influences affecting your choices and then surrender them to the Holy Spirit.

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  The result of envy and self-seeking is confusion and every evil thing that is in your heart.  We can agree this is not a place we want to go.  We are waiting on God to be led by the truth.  If we are confused there is something wrong.  If there is a problem the time to act is before it arises.  Sanctification and discipleship are needed to develop the character which never comes to this point of confusion and evil.

If you recognize a problem in your character deal with it now by acknowledging it as sin and turning it over to God.  Then wait with hope for the Holy Spirit to lead you on to all truth.

Mystic Moments: Exhortation to Repentance

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Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling.  Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us.  Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world.  Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him.  Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved. Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God.  – St. Clement

Poor in Spirit: Satan Part 4

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Because your heart is lifted up, and you say, “I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas,” yet you are a man, and not a god, though you set your heart as the heart of a god.  (Ezekiel 28:2, NKJV) 

We have previously discussed the heart as being some aspect of the immaterial inner self or being, because the heart is considered to be the seat of one’s inner nature.  This is where pride is developed – in the heart.  When pride is developed and is allowed to take control it takes the place of God in our lives.  We then become like Satan believing we are above the Lord.  We may not express it verbally as Satan did, but we become like him nonetheless.  If we develop the character of being poor in spirit, we will not develop pride in our heart because we then desire earnestly to have the Loving Father direct every step in our lives and show us the way.

Meditate on the following Scriptures and pray how to apply them to your life: 

If I have walked with falsehood, and my foot has hastened after deceit, let Him weigh me with accurate scales, and let God know my integrity.  If my step has turned from the way, or my heart followed my eyes, or if any spot has stuck to my hands, then let me sow and another eat, and let my crops be uprooted.  (Job 31:5-8, NASB)  

Make my steps through Your promise; don’t let any sin dominate me.  (Psalm 119:133, HCSB) 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB) 

O LORD [pleads Jeremiah in the name of the people], I know that [the determination of] the way of a man is not in himself; it is not in man [even in a strong man or in a man at best] to direct his [own] steps.  (Jeremiah 10:23, Amplified)

May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.  (2 Thessalonians 3:5, NASB) 

A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.  (Proverbs 16:9, HCSB)

For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.  (Psalm 31:3, NKJV)

I[the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.  (Psalm 32:8, Amplified) 

For such is God, our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.  (Psalm 48:14, NASB) 

You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me up in glory.  (Psalm 73:24. HCSB)

The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the willful contrariness and crookedness of the treacherous shall destroy them.  (Proverbs 11:3, Amplified)

They will not hunger or thirst, the scorching heat or sun will not strike them; for their compassionate One will guide them and lead them to springs of water.  (Isaiah 49:10, HCSB) 

And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and strong your bones.  And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.  (Isaiah 58:11, Amplified)

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  (John 16:13, NASB)