Greetings again my Brethren.  One more month and we will start our 20th year of service to the LORD and the Body of Christ.  It only seems like yesterday we started Beholding His Glory back in September 2002, while living in Germany.  God asked me to put a name to my travels, and Beholding His Glory was birthed for the glory of God. The millions of people we have met and the lives we have touched, well, Karen and I  thank God for the opportunity to be of service and allow Him to work in our lives. You know many people think when we travel overseas we are sent to save the heathen, well all we find out as we go we are the heathen that needs saved.   There is so much more I would love to say about 20 years of ministry, but I guess it all can be summed up by saying, “thank you LORD.”  Okay let us get back to what we have been discussing.  For the past few months we have been talking about some circumstances and diverse situations in which the LORD has visited man.  Last month we looked at how God would visit man at night a special making place in God.  Now that may mean the darkness of the day or it could mean the hard and difficult times of our lives the times when we cannot see God because of our blood, sweat, and tears we often leave on our pillows, but in the end we see where God was with us in spite of our unbelief.  You know God is always seen best in the rear view mirror.  I can speak of that in our 20 years of viewing.  But this month I would like to look at another area, maybe a strange areas,  and that area is the wilderness.  Now I will be honest, the wilderness story has been one, if not the chief story in the Bible that has propelled my love for the Old Testament and my love for God.  From the first time I heard my Bible teacher Charles Haun, (old prophet major, he would call me prophet minor) speak of the wilderness I was hooked.  In my teaching on “Righteous Living The Four Anchors of God” I write of the “divine arrangement” of God for our lives found only in the wilderness and not in the land that flows with milk and honey.  Now the wilderness is part of God’s physical creation; it is also part of His divine arrangement as applied to Christian experiences.  Any critic can relegate these times of dryness, distress, and difficulties in Christian experience to Satan or to disobedience. Human logic can easily arrange Scripture to suit itself.  However, Paul applies them as the wilderness experiences of Israel to the Christian experience. The entire setting of “these things” which “happened to them” is in the wilderness (verses 1-10).  Two significant verses (12 and 13) relate the success of Christian living to understanding, learning, and applying the lessons of the wilderness. In the first of these two verses, Paul gives warning to one who is already standing, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (v.12)  he would of necessity have to be standing  in order to fall.  The term “thinks he stands” does not refer to the one who is deceived in believing that he is standing while he really is not. He is standing. To those who are standing in a victorious Christian life, Paul gives warning to pay attention to what he is saying.  Many believers learn nothing from the experience of Israel in the wilderness.  Paul plainly indicates that without this learning there is the possibility, if not the certainty, of falling from victorious living. Understanding and learning from the failures of others brings us into an awareness necessary for the success we desire in our Christian life.  Jesus warns us of unawareness in Luke;  “Take heed to yourself, lest at any time your heart be overcharged with surfeiting(dissipation), and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unaware.”  (Luke 21:34)  Paul echoes this warning; “While they are saying peace and safety! Then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:3)  “Suddenly” is from the same Greek word used in Luke 21:34 (translated “unaware”). The meaning is “unawareness,” as the woman is not aware of her moment of delivery until the birth pangs strike. The second significant verse immediately following Paul’s reference to Israel’s wilderness experiences is known by memory by most believers. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as it is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13) In its context, this verse relates to the experiences of Israel in the wilderness as related and applied to our Christian walk today.  Many believers have failed to recognize and therefore understand the lessons and purposes of the wilderness.  As a result, some of these believers, if not most of them, continually fail in victorious Christian living. It is my hope these lessons will aid in preventing failure, and bring those already in failure out of it into victory.  One of my most loved verses in the Bible is found in the Song of Solomon says and it says, “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?”  (Song of Songs 8:5)  The wilderness the place of hardness, dryness, difficulties, misunderstanding, pains, tears, and so much more is the place we go to learn how to lean on our beloved so that we will not fall from our daily Christian living.   

       Next month we will continue to look at some circumstances in which the LORD has visited man as seen in some diverse situations. Next week my favorite (not that I enjoy it) the wilderness.  Do you see Him draw near? Please know God is near to them who are near to Him. Do you feel His presence?  Do you see His hand in your life? He is waiting on us to make our first move.  Written by David Stahl