Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: George Mueller had loved his wife Mary for 40 years. When she died this was his response:

“I fell on my knees and thanked God for her release, for having taken her to Himself.”

How can someone have such a perspective in a crisis? It’s Tuesday, September 20th, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. How would you feel if you or your husband walked into the boss’ office to give up your salary not because you received an inheritance or won a contest? You just decided to have faith that God will give you what you need. That’s what God led George Mueller to do.

And Nancy, yesterday you told us that learning about heroes of the faith like George Mueller is important.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It sure is, Leslie. When we hear what God did in the life of someone like George Mueller it encourages our faith plus it helps us to be thinking, “Am I living the kind of life that perhaps someone else could be writing about someday?” Not to make myself look great but to show how great God is. That was the desire of George Mueller who was born 200 years ago this month. We’ll hear his story over the next couple of days. To give us a quick overview, here’s Pastor John Piper.

John Piper: George Mueller was a native of Germany. He was born in Kroppenstadt, September 27, 1805. He lived almost the entire 19th century. He died in 1898 at the age of 92. He saw the Great Awakening in 1859. He did follow-up work for D.L. Moody. He preached for Charles Spurgeon in his tabernacle. He clearly and explicitly was the inspiration for Hudson Taylor’s way of doing missions. So that’s some of his connectedness in the 19th century.

He spent almost all of his life in Bristol, England. He pastored the same church there for over 66 years A.T. Pierson said, “He devised large and liberal things for the Lord’s cause.” I really like that phrase. “He devised large and liberal things for the Lord’s cause.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The Lord’s cause was not always on George Mueller’s agenda. In fact, if you’d met him as a boy, you probably would not have predicted that he’d grow up to be a hero of the faith. Here’s Jim Elliff, president of Christian Communicators Worldwide.

Jim Elliff: He would lie and steal. His father was a tax collector, and he even would steal from his own father—stealing the tax money that he had collected. On the night of his mother’s death he actually played cards in the tavern until about 2:00 in the morning and then spent much of the rest of the night just wandering through the streets with his friends. He was a very calloused kid in many ways.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: John Piper picks up the story.

John Piper: He went on living a bawdy life until he landed in prison at age 16 because of thievery. His father bought his way out of prison, beat him, and sent him off to another town. He began to make a living with his academic skills. He finally went to the University of Halle to study divinity. In those days divinity was a pathway to a good living, and his father wanted him as an unbeliever to have a good living—so go study divinity and get yourself a church. That’s what he went off to do when he was 20.

Then the day came. I love these stories. This is why I read biographies. I love the grace of God breaking into people’s lives. He was invited to a Bible study. You know what they do at this Bible study? They read the Bible; they sing a song; they pray, and they read a printed sermon because it was against the law to preach if you don’t have an ordained pastor. Mueller said:

“It was to me as if I had found something after which I had been seeking all my life. I immediately wished to go. We sat down, and we sang a hymn. Then brother Kayser knelt and asked a blessing on our meeting. His kneeling down made a deep impression on me for I had never seen anyone on his knees before nor had I ever prayed on my knees. He read a chapter from the Bible and a printed sermon.

"At the end of the meeting we sang another hymn and then the owner of the house, Mr. Wagner, prayed. While he prayed I thought I could not pray as well although I have more education than this man. The whole made a deep impression on me. I was happy, though if I had been asked why I was happy, I could not have clearly explained. I have not the least doubt that on that evening God began a work of grace in me. That evening was the turning point in my life.”

That was 1825. He’s 20 years old.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When Mr . Wagner invited this young man into his home, little did he realize that George Mueller would influence thousands and thousands of people for God’s kingdom. While he was still a young convert, George Mueller spent four years studying to be a missionary. He was zealous, but he wasn’t very focused or affective. Then he visited the town of Teignmouth, England to recover from a serious illness. John Piper picks up the story.

John Piper: He goes there in August of 1829, and while he was there there’s a little, teeny chapel, Ebenezer Chapel, with a few dozen people. The man who preached is never named. And then by virtue of a strange providence, the house where Mueller was invited to spend the time for recuperation, that man was spending ten days there. And that man was a very devoted lover of the doctrines of grace.

“Through the instrumentality of this brother, the Lord bestowed a great blessing on me. Before this period, I had been much opposed to the doctrines of election, particular redemption, and final persevering grace. But now I was brought to examine these precious truths by the Word of God.”

Forty years later, in 1870, he said that his preaching had been fruitless for the four years from 1825 to 1829 in Germany. Then he came to England and was taught the doctrines of grace. This is what he says:

“At first, I hated them. If this were true, I could do nothing at all in the conversion of sinners, as all would depend upon God and the working of His Spirit. But when it pleased God to reveal these truths to me, the Lord gave me to see fruit in abundance. Sinners were converted by scores. And ever since God has used me in one way or the other in His service.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: George Mueller became the pastor of a small chapel there in Teignmouth. As one example of his newfound trust in God’s sovereignty, he refused to accept a salary from the church. He made that decision the same month that he married Miss Mary Groves. Jim Elliff tells us a little bit about her.

Jim Elliff: She was remarkable because when they got married she was willing to actually give everything away that they had, basically sell everything, and begin to live by faith. She was willing to say, “Okay, anything You want we’re willing to do it. We just trust You for everything that we live on.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: They continued to live without a salary even as they moved to a church in Bristol, England where they established an educational ministry and the orphanage that was to become George Mueller’s major life work. George and Mary Mueller continued to trust God even under challenging circumstances. Mary delivered two stillborn children. Another child died at one month-old. But they were living for something greater than their own comfort, something greater than having their own way or their own fulfillment.

“Both of us by God’s grace had one objective in life and only one—to live for Christ. Were we happy? Verily we were. With every year our happiness increased more and more. Thousands of times I told her, ‘My darling, I never saw you at any time since you became my wife without my being delighted to see you.’”

John Piper: George Mueller’s trust in God continued even when he received sobering news about his wife’s health.

“When I heard what the judgment was, that the malady was rheumatic fever, I naturally expected the worse. My heart dared to be broken on account of the depth of my affection.”

Twenty minutes after 4:00, the Lord’s Day afternoon, February 16, 1870, Mary died.

“I fell on my knees and thanked God for her release and for having taken her to Himself and asked the Lord to help and support us.”

The man who had seen God answer 10,000 prayers in the most remarkable way for the provision of his life and his orphans did not get the answer to this prayer that his wife be spared. Or did he?

"The last portion of Scripture which I read to my precious wife was this, ‘The Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly’” (KJV – Psalm 84:11).

And what he said at Mary Groves’ funeral is the key to his life.

“If it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again. Sick as she is, God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. All this springs as I have often said before from taking God at His word, believing what He says.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Can you say that your heart is at rest, that you’re satisfied with God Himself? What we learned from this man’s life is that if we’re satisfied in God, we can trust Him to give us exactly what we need. Tomorrow, we’ll hear more about George Mueller’s life and the 10,000 orphans he cared for during the course of his lifetime. I know his story will encourage you to trust God for the things you need and in times of crisis.

I want to encourage you to order a copy of a biography that we’re making available this week called, George Mueller: Delighted in God. This is a classic biography on George Mueller and one that I read for the first time many years ago. I can’t tell you how this story and the quotes from George Mueller’s biography have inspired and strengthened my faith and given me a desire to be delighted in God as well.

Leslie Basham: You can get a copy by calling 1-800-569-5959, or visit our website ReviveOurHearts.com. Today we heard that George Mueller decided to live without a salary. That’s challenging in itself. But imagine living that way while caring for thousands of orphans. We’ll hear about it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries

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