Revive Our Hearts Podcast

George Mueller, Day 2

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: When George Muller went home to be with the Lord, it left a huge impression on those left behind. John Piper tells the story.

John Piper: “Tens of thousands of people reverently stood along the route of the simple procession. Men left their workshops and offices; women left their elegant homes or humble kitchens, all seeking to pay a last token of respect.” This one brought me to tears. “A thousand children gathered for a service at Orphan House Number Three. They had now lost their second father.”

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Tuesday, June 21, 2016.

Nancy: George Mueller was just twenty-eight years-old when he began to be burdened with an idea. He felt like one of the most powerful ways he could bring God glory was to help house and feed some of the thousands of orphans living in nineteenth century England. We heard about his motivations for this work yesterday. And if you missed any of it, you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com to catch up. We’re looking at the life of George Mueller today as part of a year-long emphasis on prayer here on Revive Our Hearts. Today you’ll be encouraged to pray with more faith and more earnestly as you see how the Lord answered the huge needs of this hero of the faith. Living in one of George Mueller’s orphanages was a daily adventure. Here’s Jim Elliff former pastor and president of Christian Communicators Worldwide. He’s quoting from a biography by Roger Steer.

Jim Elliff:

The plates and the cups were on the table, but there was nothing on the table but empty dishes. There was no food in the larder, no money to supply the need. And the children were standing waiting for breakfast. “Children, you know we must be in time for school,” said Mueller. Then lifting up his hands he prayed, “Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.” Then, according to the account, a knock was heard at the door and the baker stood there.

“Mr. Mueller, I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn’t have bread for breakfast, and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2:00 and I baked some fresh bread and I brought it.” Mueller thanked the baker and God for His care. "Children," he said, "We not only have bread to eat but the rare treat of fresh bread!" Almost immediately there came a second knock on the door. This time it was the milkman who announced that his milk cart had broken down outside the orphanage and that he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so that he could empty his wagon and repair it.

This sort of thing happened over and over and over again. In fact, as you read the larger narratives of George Mueller, it's (I hope I'm saying this right) almost tiring because of the repetition of how many times God comes through in such a great way. I mean, it happened so very often, that God supplied just what he needed by the moment as they actually needed it.

Nancy: George Mueller had chosen to display this type of faith years earlier as a young pastor. Here’s Pastor John Piper.

John Piper: He gave up his regular salary early on in his ministry, put a box at the back, and never asked people for money again. He refused to directly ask people for money. He knew this was not mandated in the Bible. Paul clearly asked people for money, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. Don’t idealize this man by saying he’s trying to get you to do all the details of his life. This is a God-chosen strategy, or a Mueller-chosen strategy that he believed God had called him to in order to display to the world through the orphan houses, and through how he was praying the money in, that God is real and answers prayer. It was all a strategic life.

Jim Elliff: He was determined that if God did not provide the food and the clothing for them, he really just needed to close the whole thing down. He was very concerned for the children. He knew that the purpose God had driven into him was to demonstrate the life of faith. And if God didn’t supply, God must not be in it at that time and maybe something else was to happen.

He couldn't bring himself to believe that God wouldn't supply. And sure enough, God supplied every time. He said at one point that hundreds of times he commences the day without food in hand, but by the time it was needed, the food would be there.

Nancy: Here’s Pastor Jim Cymbala from the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

Jim Cymbala: You don’t see Mueller praying too much about eight months from now or a year from now or three weeks from now. The Lord put him in a situation where everything was lived out on a daily basis.

I’ve made mistakes in my own life many times by not giving enough focus to the day that is before me and the needs that I have. All our listeners can be blessed by that. The Lord is not going to give me the grace I need for next Wednesday; He’s going to give me the grace I need today. Then if next Wednesday comes along and I’m still alive, He will help me for that day. But many times we worry and get distracted by things that the Lord is not even focused on. We need to go daily for our daily needs and His daily supply.

John Piper: When faced with a crisis and having no means as far as he could tell to pay the bill, he would say, “How the means are to come I know not, but I know that God is almighty and that He hears and that the parts of all are in His hands; and that if He pleases to influence persons, they will help.”

That’s where I get the idea that the sovereignty of God over the human heart became the foundation of his confidence that God would answer his prayers and cause money to come in. He said, “The hearts of all men in Australia, China, America, England . . . the hearts of all men are in the hands of God. If I send a message to my Father that these orphans and I have needs, He promises, ‘I will meet all your needs according to my riches in glory in Christ Jesus. You walk uprightly, you seek the kingdom first; I will keep My promise.’”

The only way, when he saw 2,000 kids hanging month-to-month on God—the only way he could be peaceful is to know, “God is sovereign over the hearts of people I’ve never spoken a word to.”

Nancy: George Mueller talks many times in his journals about the peace of God. That was something that struck me as I read his biography this last time through. Because I know a lot of people today, myself included, who have a lot fewer pressures than George Mueller did at times, and yet who know so little of God’s peace. The peace of God is something that consistently characterized this man’s life.

We have never been lower in needs than yesterday and today, and yet my soul, thanks to the Lord, was also yesterday and today in perfect peace.

That peace came about as a result of trusting God. The Scripture says, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on you because he trusts in you.” And that says to me, if I’m not experiencing God’s peace in my heart, there probably are some areas where I’m not trusting God to meet my needs.

Nothing but real trust in God can keep the heart in peace. In Him we trust. To Him alone we look at all times, and thus our hearts are kept in peace even in the darkest hours.

Here’s what George Mueller wrote when it looked like he was going to lose a piece of land that he felt he really needed for a new orphanage:

If the Lord were to take this piece of land from me, it would only be for the purpose of giving me a better one. For our heavenly Father never takes any earthly thing from His children except He means to give them something better instead.

John Piper: That’s not the gift of faith; that’s believing what the Bible says. “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11).

Jim Elliff: He didn’t, by the way, believe that he had a gift of faith. He believed that he had the normal grace of faith, and he took the typical Scriptures and he believed God on the basis of the Scriptures that any of us could use.

John Piper: As soon as people put him in a category of having this unique gift of faith (which not all have, Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 12), they don’t have to take his life seriously anymore. They don’t have to check their own unbelief in the promises of God to care for his people. And then his whole purpose for living and for doing the orphan work would fail.

Though all the believers in the Lord Jesus are not called upon to establish orphan houses and trust in God for means, yet all believers according to the will of God concerning them in Christ Jesus may cast and ought to cast all their care upon Him who cares for them and not need to be anxious and concerned about anything.

This is a God-chosen strategy or a Mueller-chosen strategy that he believed God had called him to in order to display to the world through the orphan houses, and how he was praying the money in, that God is real and answers prayers. It is all a strategic life. You have to think what yours is. It would be unbiblical to say, “You cannot and dare not ask anybody for money” because Paul clearly did in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.

You take Matthew 6:33 and dream your dream of how to display the trustworthiness of Jesus for your city, your church. It doesn’t have to be the same as his. It certainly doesn’t have to be orphans. And it doesn’t have to be never ask for money.

Nancy: John Piper just referred to that familiar verse, Matthew 6:33, which says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these shall be added unto you.” As you think about George Mueller and the example of his life, I hope God has brought to mind some ways that you can seek God’s kingdom even if it requires a new level of faith. If our eyes are on the Lord and we’re following Him, then we can be assured of His provision.

So what are the areas of your life where you’re tempted to fret, to be fearful, to look to the future and say, “But what if . . .?” George Mueller reminds us to keep our eyes on the Lord in every area of life: our finances, our marriage, our work, our walk with God. With every need that arose, Mr. Mueller said, “My eyes are upon the Lord. God is faithful; God is good. Everything He does is good. I know He will meet the need as I ask Him.”

One way he could maintain that attitude is that he made it a priority every day to first get his soul satisfied in God. Again, this is Jim Elliff.

Jim Elliff: That was his first matter of business. And the way he did it was he would take his large print New Testament usually, and he would go walking out in the fields in the morning.

Above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you. The Lord’s work may even have earnest claims upon your attention. But I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls happy in God Himself.

He said he learned early on that rather than beginning by trying to pray, by kneeling down and trying to pray . . . . He said he would often fight for thirty, forty minutes, trying to feel that he was really communicating with the Lord. But he learned later that if he just took the Bible and began to meditate on the Word of God and get his soul happy about the greatness of God, the beauty of His plan and the work that He was doing and the promises that He promised, and then let his prayers flow out of that . . . . This was a great secret for him that he practiced in all of his life.

Day by day, seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm, settled conviction for the last five and thirty years.

One of the times when I was the Mueller ophanages, I learned something I hadn't know before. There's a wall out front that runs across those orphanages that was built later on. I had never asked the question about why it was there or what the purpose was. One man who was in the know told me that the wall was built because George Mueller had habit of getting up in the morning and walking. After so many years, the area began to be built up more around Ashley Down, and people would look at this man of God out there walking with his Bible in his hand, contemplating and meditating, and it was a little bit disturbing to Mueller. So they had a wall built so nobody could see him. He was also a practical man, but that was his method, and nobody should disturb that time.

When you think as you mention all the weight that he carried, that whole work was really in some sense centered arount that activity that was the first thing in the morning for him. That's where the work began and the faith began and the joy began that allowed him to emotionally go through the day.

Nancy: Spending time with the Lord as George Mueller did will affect every part of your life. Here’s Pastor Jim Cymbala.

Jim Cymbala: God uses people who doctrinally don’t agree with one another, and some people we could have rather strong opinions that in one place in their doctrinal position they might not be as scriptural as we see it or as we feel. But God uses them in phenomenal ways because they spend much time with God. It seems like they bear the imprint of His presence on their lives, and as they preach the cardinal truths of the gospel and of Scripture, they bring blessing and healing and life and spiritual energy to people, not because they’re perfect in their doctrine or not because of their doctrinal position, but because they’ve been much with the Lord.

And that was the truth about Mueller’s life that impressed me so much. Here was a man who didn’t just talk the talk—he walked the walk. He was constantly with the Lord, in the Scriptures, spending time with God. And what a blessing that produced for others.

Nancy: As we heard earlier part of George Mueller’s prayer time was spent asking God to meet the specific needs of that day.

Jim Cymbala: It wasn’t just that he knew what the needs were on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Before he would take a trip he knew how much money would have to be supplied while he was gone, that he would have faith for that, trust God and bring it as a petition to the throne of grace where both mercy and grace is promised to every believer who comes sincerely.

But when decisions had to be made about the most minute things, he would never be seen rushing into it, but would put in his journal, “prayed much today” about this decision, about starting another building or doing this or doing that, or even taking a trip, going to speak, what to speak about. “Spent time with the Lord wanting to know what I should share in the meeting that night. The Lord made this real.”

This was part of, of course, not only his life in the Word, but his communion with the Lord. He wanted to do God’s will. And the more we want to do God’s will, the more we’re going to see God helping us because we’re being sent on His errands. You know, there’s an old saying by, I think it was one of the Puritans, that “He who wants to be sent on errands by the Lord must live close to the Master.” And Mueller wanted to be sent on errands by the Lord, so he lived very close to the Master.

It is absolutely needful, in order that happiness in the Lord may continue, that the Scriptures be regularly read. These are God’s appointed means for the nourishment of the inner man. Consider it and ponder over it. I have read through the whole Bible about 100 times, and I always find it fresh when I begin again. Thus my peace and joy have increased more and more.

His insight into the importance of God’s Word—I’ve just treasured it all my adult life. It’s helped me so much as I give time to carefully reading through the Bible. As you know, his “library” was very, very meager because he really didn’t believe in reading a lot of literature, even spiritual books outside of the Bible. He was a man of one Book.

And that Word was not just read; that Word was meditated on and that Word produced mighty faith in him, especially those promises that he would latch onto. He was interested in historical narratives. He was interested in the commands of God. All of those had a place in his walk with the Lord, but when those promises would be made alive by the Holy Spirit, that would sustain Mueller through the mountains that he was facing that had to be overcome.

I saw that the most important thing that I had to do was give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it. What is food of the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God. Not a simple reading of the Word of God so that it only passes through our minds, but considering what we read, pondering over it and applying it to our hearts.

Nancy: Here’s Pastor John Piper.

John Piper: Here’s the man that’s known all over the world for prayer, and he says it’s second to the reading of the Bible. If you want to be successful or fruitful in ministry, this is where you must feed every day. Not prayer, but the Word of God. And not simple reading of the Word of God so that it only passes through our minds as water through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, applying it to our lives.

Nancy: George Mueller continued to preach, teach, and care for orphans year after year, trusting God to provide even as the needs got greater and greater. When Mueller turned seventy years old he fulfilled a lifelong dream to be a missionary. Over the next seventeen years he traveled the world visiting forty-two countries, preaching an average of once every day. It’s estimated that between the ages of seventy and eighty-seven he spoke to three million people. And this man of God still wasn’t ready to retire.

John Piper: From the end of his travels—then he was eighty-seven in 1892—till he died in 1898, he preached again in his home church. He worked with the orphans and the Scripture Knowledge Institute until he died at age ninety-two. He said when he was ninety-two, not long before he died, “I have been able every day and all day to work, and that with ease, as seventy years since.”

The funeral was held the following Monday. He died March 9, 1898 on a Wednesday. The funeral was held in Bristol. “Tens of thousands of people reverently stood along the route of the simple procession. Men left their workshops and offices; women left their elegant homes or humble kitchens, all seeking to pay a last token of respect.” This one brought me to tears. “A thousand children gathered for a service at Orphan House Number Three. They had now lost their second father.”

This eccentric pastor and lover of orphans was gone. He had read the Bible end to end almost 200 times. He had prayed in millions of dollars. He never asked anyone for money directly. He never took a salary for the last sixty-eight years of his life. He trust in God to put it into people's hearts to give what was needed to him and the thousands of orphans in his care. He never took a loan and was never in debt. He never went hungry, nor did any of his orphans.

The eccentric pastor was now gone.

Jim Cymbala: I think he may be a continuation of the life of Hebrews 11. He’s another hero of faith. If you study Hebrews 11, men and women are mentioned in there who lived by faith and walked by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. So when I read Hebrews 11 or I consider George Mueller’s life, I can go to the Lord and say, “Lord, I might not be George Mueller, but You know what I’m facing. If You led him and supplied in the path that You chose for him, I can certainly trust You to help me with what I’m facing today as a housewife, as a female professional, as a mom of a couple kids. Whatever our situation is in life, the same God who helped Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and George Mueller (and a lot of other folks), He's the same God who stands ready to help us.

There are only two things waiting for us at the throne of grace—and that's mercy in case we've failed the Lord and grace which is God's inner strength to help us get through the challenge right before us. The God of George Mueller is our God. He's the same God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. As He supported and helped them, He’ll do it for US.

Nancy: That’s Pastor Jim Cymbala from the Brooklyn Tabernacle. We also heard from Pastors Jim Elliff and John Piper, who will be right back. As we look at the life of George Mueller, it’s easy to think, “Well, he lived on another plane altogether. He was just in in some unattainable, super-spiritual realm. I’m just an ordinary person.” But when you read Mueller's biography you see that he had the same kind of struggles that we have. He had feet of clay. Sometimes he waivered in unbelief. Sometimes he was tempted to doubt God. It’s amazing to me to see how God used this very real, very fallible, but believing man to do great things for His kingdom. Wouldn't it be a great thing to see God raise up more George Muellers in our day. You may or may not be called to serve orphans in the same way he did. You may or may not be called to preach around the world. But each of us can pray with same kind of faith and fervor we see in George Mueller.

When you look around at the serious needs in our world, you may wonder, What can I do? When marriage and gender is being re-defined, what can we do? When there seems to be an absence of godly leadership and it feels like “everyone is doing what is right in his own eyes”—what can we do? When there’s so much pain and brokeness in the relationships in your neighbord and perhaps in our own homes—what can we do? We can ask the Lord to meet the needs and to demonstrate His power in these situations.

This September, we are coming together in a special way to do just that. I want to invite you to participate in Cry Out!: A National Prayer Event for Women on Friday evening, September 23. I believe this could be a historic prayer meeting. A number of individuals with a heart for prayer and a burden for what's happening in our world today will be joining me at the True Woman '16 conference where we will be hosting this prayer meeting. And I’m asking the Lord to raise up at least 100,000 women who will join with us in thousands of venues all across the country to cry out with us by way of a simulcast from Indianapolis. Even if you can’t be with us in person, would you consider asking the Lord who you could get to join you to cry out to the Lord together?

We’ve already heard from so many women anticipating this event and starting to form groups. A woman in Brazil told us she’s hosting a gathering that she’ll translate it into Portugese as it’s unfolding. A woman in rural South Dakota is inviting women in small churches all across her region to join together and cry out with us that event. A group from a major seminary is inviting all the women on campus to join together and pray. Those are just a few examples.

To get all the details on how to put together a group and cry out on September 23, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, as you think about joining the Cry Out! prayer event or perhaps hosting a group, you may be wondering, What can I expect? Are we really going to just  pray for three whole hours. Will I be bored?  Tomorrow, we’ll address some of those questions and get a fuller picture of why we need to cry out in our day and what that event will look like. That’s tomorrow here on Revive Our Hearts.

To close our time, here’s John Piper. He’s been speaking to a group of pastors about the life of George Mueller, and he’s going to end in prayer.

John Piper: Father in heaven, I praise You for Your grace in the life of George Mueller. What a life he led. He may have had aggravating aspects to his personality as we all do. But oh what a grace of faith. And we want it. We've been hearing challenges to it so far. We want to get inside Jesus' promises: "I'll never leave you; I'll never forsake you." Therefore, we can confidently say, "The Lord is my help, what can man do to me." "Seek the kingdom first and all these things will be added to you." "No good thing will He withhold to those who walk uprightly." "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus." "Be satisfied by Me." Go for it. Oh God, release 900 or so pastors into a fresh, risk-taking ministry that displays to their churches and to the world that they have a prayer-hearing God and that He is faithful still and all-satisfying—come what may. I ask this in Jesus' name, amen.

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

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