"Yet ye have not, because ye ask not" (James 4:2).
It was a saying of George Mueller that faith grows with use. If we would have great faith we must begin to use the little faith we already have. Put it to work by reverent and faithful praying, and it will grow and become stronger day by day. Dare today to trust God for something small and ordinary and next week or next year you may be able to trust Him for answers bordering on the miraculous. Everyone has some faith, said Mueller; the difference among us is one of degree only, and the man of small faith may be simply the one who has not dared to exercise the little faith he has.
According to the Bible, we have because we ask, or we have not because we ask not. It does not take much wisdom to discover our next move. Is it not to pray, and pray again and again till the answer comes? God waits to be invited to display His power in behalf of His people. The world situation is such that nothing less than God can straighten it out. Let us not fail the world and disappoint God by failing to pray. taken from The Set of the Sail, pp. 33-34 by A.W. Tozer
There are two passages in the word of God of the deepest moment to Christians, and I would therefore speak on them. The first is in 2 Peter 1:5: “Besides this, add to your faith virtue,” etc. It is here supposed that we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, because we are commanded to add to our faith virtue, and these other graces. The apostle Peter is addressing believers, and here tonight I am supposing that I am speaking to believers. Yet, peradventure, there may be some who are not believers. To you, if there be any such, I would say, you are sinners. You may be young in this life, or you may be advanced in years; you may be very moral, or otherwise; but in the sight of God you are sinners. This you must, if you would be saved, realize and understand that you are sinners, and not only so, but sinners deserving punishment. You are lost, and have no power of your own to save yourselves. The world talks about turning over a new leaf, but that will not satisfy Divine justice.
The record of your past sins stands against you, and must be blotted out. What then? You are sinners, and sinners deserving of punishment, nothing but punishment. You must either suffer that eternal punishment yourselves, or obtain another to bear it. Well, the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to bear this punishment. He has borne it in our room and stead. He has suffered for us. And now the only one thing that God looks for from the sinner is, that we should put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in Him alone, for the salvation of our souls. We must look entirely to Himself; we must look only to the blessed Lamb of God, who was nailed to the Cross. Whosoever trusteth in Him shall be saved. Let his sins be never so many, yet he shall have forgiveness for all his transgressions. He is born again—is regenerated, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He will be made a child of God, an heir of God, and joint-heir with Christ. Thanks be to His name. “who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” [ Col. 1:13]
If we have believed in the Lord Jesus, we are, however, not to be satisfied with this, but to seek to add to our faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness.
An Address on 2 Corinthians 5.7 'We walk by faith, not by sight'
As long as the child of God is in the would, he has not in actual possession what he will have when with the Lord, and especially, what he will have after the return of the Lord Jesus; he is not yet what he then will be; he does not see what he then will see. But while we are yet in weakness, whilst in the body, in comparative ignorance, and have still to contend against mighty enemies, God has been pleased to give to us a revelation of Himself in the Holy Scriptures, to be our rule of action, to comfort and encourage us, to make Himself known to us, to make the Lord Jesus known to us, to tell us of the blessedness of the world to come, to show us the way to the Father's house, and to reveal to us the vanity of all that this present world can give. This Word of God, the revelation He has made of Himself, is to be credited, to be received fully, in childlike simplicity; and, in doing so, heavenly realities become present things to us by faith. We have not to judge by feeling, by seeing, by reasoning, but by believing, viz., by exercising faith in what God says: and thus have our ways and our actions to be regulated; thus our joys and sorrows.
God is not seen by the natural eye: but we have to seek to see Him, and. to set Him before us daily, hourly, momentarily, by faith; and to bring Him and keep Him nigh to us by faith. The presence of God, the habitual presence of God, because we believe that He sees us and hears us continually, has to regulate our life. We have to live in this world as those would who exercise faith in the truth that their heavenly Father is continually their Provider, their Protector, their Helper, their Friend; that He is ever nigh to them, that He is a wall of fire round about them continually. If the child of God thus treated God, exercised faith in Him, looked upon Him practically as the living God ever near to him, how peacefully and happily would he walk through the world!
The Lord Jesus, the loving, sympathising Friend, is not seen by the natural eye; but faith says, I rest upon that word, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world [age]. (Matt. xxviii. 20.) And thus the heart is made happy by the belief in a present living, loving, almighty Saviour.
The Lord Jesus has not yet taken His power to Himself manifestly. He does not yet manifestly reign: but faith looks for the fulfilment of all that which is said of the return of the Lord Jesus; and therefore, though we are not yet actually with Him on the throne, reigning with Him, we believe that He will come again, and we comfort ourselves, whilst yet in the conflict, in poverty, meanness, and suffering, by the precious statements made in the Holy Scriptures regarding the time of His appearing; and we walk thus on in peace and joy, though we do not yet see His glory with the natural eye.
We are now in a body of humiliation, which is often weak, yea, sometimes in pain and suffering. The manifestation of the sons of God has not yet taken place; we are not yet in our glorious body, such a body as the Lord Jesus has had since His resurrection: but we have the promise of such a glorified body; this is revealed for us in the Holy Scriptures, and therefore, though we do not yet actually possess it, we have to lay hold on God's promise regarding this, and to walk in the faith of this promise: thus our hearts will be sustained under present weakness, pain, and suffering.
We have the promise of an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away; but we have not yet entered upon the possession of this inheritance: we are poor, mean, without possession at all, it may be, so far as sight is concerned; we have, therefore, to exercise faith in this promise, to lay hold on it, to seek to enter into it, in order that we may be full of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Scriptures tell us of Satan being bound, yea, bruised under our feet; but this has not yet taken place; we are yet in the warfare, we constantly experience his power still: we have, therefore, for our comfort to lay hold on the blessing promised in this respect; and thus our hearts will be cheered and comforted.
And thus, regarding all the numberless promises which God has been pleased to make, in so far as at any time they are applicable to our position and circumstances, both with respect to temporal and. spiritual things, we have to exercise faith concerning them; and the comfort, support, and blessing intended by them to our hearts, will be enjoyed by us. For instance, the promise in Matthew vii. 7-11: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son Ôask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him? If we believe that it will be even as the Lord Jesus said, with what earnestness, perseverance, expecting faith, shall we give ourselves to prayer! Though the answer be long delayed, though, as to sight, the answer to our prayers can never be received; yet, since we believe, walk by faith, we shall continue to expect an answer to our prayers, as assuredly as our petitions are according to the mind of God, are asked in the name of the Lord Jesus, and we exercise faith in the power and willingness of God to help us.
Again, the testimony of God the Holy Ghost, in Romans-viii. 28, is: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Now, if we lay hold on it by faith, bring to it in faith our greatest trials, difficulties, afflictions, bereavements, etc., our hearts will be comforted, we shall obtain peace to our souls. I have been a believer in the Lord Jesus for forty-four years, but I have invariably found that my greatest trials have proved my greatest blessings; they have worked for my good. But suppose we did not see this to be so, while yet in the body, we have nevertheless to exercise faith concerning what God says; we have to walk by faith, regarding that word of His, That all things work together for good to them that love God, and then will the heart be comforted and sustained.
Three years ago God allowed two most heavy trials to befall me. They continued month after month. I said to myself, This too works for my good; and I continued day by day, while the afflictions lasted, to make known my requests unto God, that He would graciously be pleased to sustain me under them, and, in His own time, deliver me out of them. There was hanging in my bed-room in a frame a text, Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it (Ps. lxxxi. 10), upon which my eyes fell as I rose in the morning; and my heart said to my heavenly Father, I do open my mouth wide; wilt Thou graciously be pleased to do according to Thy word? and wilt Thou fill it! I continued patiently, believingly, expectingly, to look to God for help, and He did deliver me out of these two most heavy afflictions, and I have thus become further acquainted with Him. All this I say for the comfort and encouragement of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ. Will you, then, the next time that you are in trial, seek to remember this for your comfort? You may not be able to see how such and such a heavy trial can work for your good; but it will most assuredly, as God has said. And if even in this life you should not see it, you will do so in the world to come; but generally we see it already in this life.
The reason why the children of God are so frequently overpowered by difficulties and trials is, because they attempt to carry their burden themselves, instead of casting it upon God, as He not only graciously allows them to do, but commands them to do; and therefore they lose the promise which is coupled with the command; they find themselves not sustained. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee (Ps. lv. 22). This does not mean simply that we should pray to God in our trials and afflictions, but that we should exercise faith in the power and willingness of God to help us under our trials; and by this we know whether we have only used words in prayer, or whether we have, in believing prayer, exercising faith in God, spoken to Him about our trials. If the latter was the case, then, though the trial still lasts, the burden thereof is gone, because we have laid it upon God, to bear it for us; but if we have not exercised faith in God, we are still carrying the burden ourselves.
All these matters are so deeply important, because if we do not walk by faith we cannot be happy in God, and therefore cannot bear such a testimony for God as we should bear were we indeed happy. Our very countenances should testify of our peace and joy in God, in order that thus the unconverted may be stirred up to seek for themselves after that which makes the children of God so happy.
We have, then, to believe what God says. Nor must we look to our feelings, nor expect help from our natural fallen reason; nor must we be discouraged, though all appearance were against what God says; for faith begins when sight fails. As long as we can see with the natural eye, and our natural fallen reason will yet help us, faith is not needed. This is often lost sight of by the children of God; and hence they are so much discouraged, because they do not walk by sight, which was never intended for them while they are yet in the body. If there is then one thing that we need more than another, it is an increase of faith, in order that we may take right steps, surer steps, firmer steps; yea, run with alacrity in the ways of the Lord. - To the end of our course we therefore should pray, Lord, increase my faith!
GEORGE Müller OF BRISTOL
God has His own mathematics: witness that miracle of the loaves and fishes. Our Lord said to His disciples: "Give ye them to eat," and as they divided, He multiplied, the scanty provision; as they subtracted from it He added to it; as they decreased it by distributing, He increased it for distributing. And it has been beautifully said of all holy partnerships, that griefs shared are divided, and joys shared are multiplied.
We have already seen how the prayer circle had been enlarged. The founder of the orphan work, at the first, had only God for his partner, telling Him alone his own wants or the needs of his work. Later on, a very few, including his own wife, Mr. Craik, and one or two helpers, were permitted to know the condition of the funds and supplies. Later still, in the autumn of 1838, he began to feel that he ought more fully to open the doors of his confidence to his associates in the Lord's business. Those who shared in the toils should also share in the prayers, and therefore in the knowledge of the needs which prayer was to supply; else how could they fully be partakers of the faith, the work, and the reward? Or, again, how could they feel the full proof of the presence and power of God in the answers to prayer, know the joy of the Lord which such answers inspire, or praise Him for the deliverance which such answers exhibit? It seemed plain that, to the highest glory of God, they must know the depths of need, the extremities of want out of which God had lifted them, and ascribe all honour and praise to His name.
Accordingly Mr. Müller called together all the beloved brothers and sisters linked with him in the conduct of the work, and fully stated the case, keeping nothing back. He showed them the distress they were in, while he bade them be of good courage, assuring them of his own confidence that help was nigh at hand, and then united them with himself and the smaller praying circle which had previously existed, in supplication to Jehovah Jireh.
The step thus taken was of no small importance to all concerned. A considerable number of praying believers henceforth added to the band of intercessors that gave God no rest day nor night. While Mr. Müller withheld no facts as to the straits to which the work was reduced, he laid down certain principles which from time to time were reiterated as unchanging laws for the conduct of the Lord's business. For example, nothing must be bought, whatever the extremity, for which there was not money in hand to pay: and yet it must be equally a settled principle that the children must not be left to lack anything needful; for better that the work cease, and the orphans be sent away, than that they be kept in a nominal home where they were really left to suffer from hunger or nakedness.
Again, nothing was ever to be revealed to outsiders of existing need, lest it should be construed into an appeal for help; but the only resort must be to the living God. The helpers were often reminded that the supreme object of the institutions, founded in Bristol, was to prove God's fulness and the perfect safety of trusting solely to His promises; jealousy for Him must therefore restrain all tendency to look to man for help. Moreover, they were earnestly besought to live in such daily and hourly fellowship with God as that their own unbelief and disobedience might not risk either their own power in prayer, or the agreement, needful among them, in order to common supplication. One discordant note may prevent the harmonious symphony of united prayer, and so far hinder the acceptableness of such prayer with God.
Thus informed and instructed, these devoted coworkers, with the beloved founder of the orphan work, met the crisis intelligently. If, when there were no funds, there must be no leaning upon man, no debt incurred, and yet no lack allowed, clearly the only resort or resource must be waiting upon the unseen God; and so, in these straits and in every succeeding crisis, they went to Him alone. The orphans themselves were never told of any existing need; in every case their wants were met, though they knew not how. The barrel of meal might be empty, yet there was always a handful when needed, and the cruse of oil was never so exhausted that a few drops were not left to moisten the handful of meal. Famine and drought never reached the Bristol orphanage: the supplies might come slowly and only for one day at a time, but somehow, when the need was urgent and could no longer wait, there was enough-- though it might be barely enough to meet the want.
It should be added here, as completing this part of the Narrative, that, in August, 1840, this circle of prayer was still further enlarged by admitting to its intimacies of fellowship and supplication the brethren and sisters who laboured in the day-schools, the same solemn injunctions being repeated in their case against any betrayal to outsiders of the crises that might arise.
To impart the knowledge of affairs to so much larger a band of helpers brought in every way a greater blessing, and especially so to the helpers themselves. Their earnest, believing, importunate prayers were thus called forth, and God only knows how much the consequent progress of the work was due to their faith, supplication, and self-denial. The practical knowledge of the exigencies of their common experience begat an unselfishness of spirit which prompted these acts of heroic sacrifice that have no human record or written history, and can be known only when the pages of the Lord's own journal are read by an assembled universe in the day when the secret things are brought to light. It has, since Mr. Müller's departure, transpired how large a share of the donations received are to be traced to him; but there is no means of ascertaining as to the aggregate amount of the secret gifts of his coworkers in this sacred circle of prayer.
We do know, however, that Mr. Müller was not the only self-denying giver, though he may lead the host. His true yoke-fellows often turned the crisis by their own offerings, which though small were costly! Instrumentally they were used of God to relieve existing want by their gifts, for out of the abundance of their deep poverty abounded the riches of their liberality. The money they gave was sometimes like the widow's two mites-- all their living; and not only the last penny, but ornaments, jewels, heirlooms, long kept and cherished treasures, like the alabaster flask of ointment which was broken upon the feet of Jesus, were laid down on God's altar as a willing sacrifice. They gave all they could spare and often what could ill spare, so that there might be meat in God's house and no lack of bread or other needed supplies for His orphans. In a sublime sense this work was not Mr. Müller's only but theirs also, who with him took part in prayers and tears, in cares and toils, in self-denials and self-offerings, whereby God chose to carry forward His plans for these homeless waifs! It was in thus giving that all the helpers found also new power, assurance, and blessing in praying; for, as one of them said, he felt that it would scarcely be "upright to pray, except he were to give what he had."*
The helpers, thus admitted into Mr. Müller's confidence came into more active sympathy with him and the work and partook increasingly of the same spirit. Of this some few instances and examples have found their way into his journal.
A gentleman and some ladies visiting the orphan house saw the large number of little ones to be cared for. One of the ladies said to the matron of the Boys' House: "Of course you cannot carry on these institutions without a good stock of funds"; and the gentleman added, "Have you a good stock?" The quiet answer was, "Our funds are deposited in a bank which cannot break." The reply drew tears from the eyes of the lady, and a gift of five pounds from the pocket of the gentleman-- a donation most opportune, as there was not one penny then in hand.
Fellow labourers such as these, who asked nothing for themselves, but cheerfully looked to the Lord for their own supplies, and willingly parted with their own money of goods in the hour of need, filled Mr. Müller's heart with praise to God, and held up his hands, as Aaron and Hur sustained those of Moses, till the sun of his life went down. During all the years of his superintendence these were the main human support of his faith and courage. They met with him in daily prayer, faithfully kept among themselves the secrets of the Lord's work in the great trials of faith; and, when the hour of triumph came, they felt it both duty and privilege in the annual report to publish their deliverance, to make their boast in God, that all men might know His love and faithfulness and ascribe Him glory.
From time to time, in connection with the administration of the work, various questions arose which have a bearing on all departments of Christian service, for their solution enters into what may be called the ethics and economics of the Lord's work. At a few of these we may glance.
As the Lord was dealing with them by the day, it seemed clear that they were to live by the day. No dues should be allowed to accumulate, even such as would naturally accrue from ordinary weekly supplies of bread, milk, etc. From the middle of September, 1838, it was therefore determined that every article bought was to be paid for at the time.
Again, rent became due in stated amounts and at stated times. This want was therefore not unforeseen, and, looked at in one aspect, rent was due daily or weekly, though collected at longer intervals. The principle having been laid that no debt should be incurred, it was considered as implying that the amount due for rent should be put asidedaily, or at least weekly, even though not then payable. This rule was henceforth adopted, with this understanding, that money thus laid aside was sacred to that end, and not to be drawn upon, even temporarily, for any other.
Notwithstanding such conscientiousness and consistency the trial of faith and patience continued. Money came in only in small sums, and barely enough with rigid economy to meet each day's wants. The outlook was often most dark and the prospect most threatening; but no real need ever failed to be supplied: and so praise was continually mingled with prayer, the incense of thanksgiving making fragrant the flame of supplication. God's interposing power and love could not be doubted, and in fact made the more impression as unquestionable facts, because help came so frequently at the hour of extremity, and in the exact form or amount needed. Before the provision was entirely exhausted, there came new supplies or the money wherewith to buy, so that these many mouths were always fed and these many bodies always clad.
To live up to such principles as had been laid down was not possible without faith, kept in constant and lively exercise. For example, in the closing months of 1838 God seemed purposely putting them to a severe test whether or not they did trust Him alone. The orphan work was in continual straits: at times not one half-penny was in the hands of the matrons in the three houses. But not only was no knowledge of such facts ever allowed to leak out, or any hint of the extreme need ever given to outsiders,but even those who inquired, with intent to aid, were not informed.
One evening a brother ventured to ask how the balance would stand when the next accounts were made up, and whether it would be as great in favour of the orphans when the previous balance-sheet had been prepared. Mr. Müller's calm but evasive answer was:
"It will be as great as the Lord pleases."
This was no intentional rudeness. To have said more would have been turning from the one Helper to make at least an indirect appeal to man for help; and every such snare was carefully avoided lest the one great aim should be lost sight of:
to prove to all men that it is safe to trust only in the Living God.
While admitting the severity of the straits to which the whole work of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution was often brought, Mr. Müller takes pains to assure his readers that these straits were never a surprise to him, and that expectations in the matter of funds were not disappointed, but rather the reverse. He had looked for great emergencies as essential to his full witness to a prayer-hearing God. The almighty Hand can never be clearly seen while any human help is sought for or is in sight. We must turn absolutely away from all else if we to turn fully unto the living God. The deliverance is signal, only in proportion as the danger is serious, and is significant when, without God, we face absolute despair. Hence the exact end for which the whole work mainly begun could be attained only through such conditions of extremity and such experiences of interposition in extremity.
Some who have known but little of the interior history of the orphan work have very naturally accounted for the regularity of supplies by supposing that the public statements, made about it by word of mouth, and especially by pen in the printed annual reports, have constituted appeals for aid. Unbelief would interpret all God's working however wonderful, by "natural laws," and the carnal mind, refusing to see in any of the manifestations of God's power any supernatural force at work, persists in thus explaining away all the "miracles of prayer."
No doubt humane and sympathetic hearts have been strongly moved by the remarkable ways in which God has day by day provided for all these orphans, as well as the branches of work of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution; and believing souls have been drawn into loving and hearty sympathy with work so conducted, and been led to become its helpers. It is a well-known fact that God has used these annual reports to accomplish much results. Yet it remains true that these reports were never intended or issued as appeals for aid, and no dependence has been placed upon them for securing timely help. It is also undeniable that, however frequent their issue, wide their circulation, or great their influence, the regularity and abundance of the supplies of all needs must in some other way be accounted for.
Only a few days after public meetings were held or printed reports issued, funds often fell to their lowest ebb. Mr. Müller and his helpers were singularly kept from all undue leaning upon any such indirect appeals, and frequently and definitely asked God that they might never be left to look for any inflow of means through such channels. For many reasons the Lord's dealings with them were made known, the main object of such publicity always being a testimony to the faithfulness of God. This great object Mr. Müller always kept foremost, hoping and praying that, by such records and revelations of God's fidelity to His promises, and of the manner in which He met each new need, his servant might awaken, quicken, and stimulate faith in Him as the Living God. One has only to read these reports to see the conspicuous absence of any appeal for human aid, or of any attempt to excite pity, sympathy and compassion toward the orphans. The burden of every report is to induce the reader to venture wholly upon God, to taste and see that the Lord is good, and find for himself how blessed are all they that put their trust in Him. Only in the light of this supreme purpose can these records of a life of faith be read intelligently and intelligibly.
Weakness of body again, in the autumn of 1839, compelled, for a time, rest from active labour, and Mr. Müller went to Trowbridge and Exeter, Teignmouth and Plymouth. God had precious lessons for him which He could best teach in the school of affliction.
While at Plymouth Mr. Müller felt anew the impulse to early rising for purposes of devotional communion. At Halle he had been an early riser, influenced by zeal for excellence in study. Afterwards, when his weak head and feeble nerves made more sleep seem needful, he judged that, even when he rose late, the day would be long enough to exhaust his little fund of strength; and so often he lay in bed till six or even seven o'clock, instead of rising at four; and after dinner took a nap for a quarter-hour. It grew upon him, however, that he was losing in spiritual vigour, and that his soul's health was declining under this new regimen. The work now so pressed upon him as to prevent proper reading of the Word and rob him of leisure for secret prayer.
A "chance remark"-- there is no chance in a believer's life!-- made by the brother at whose house he was abiding at Plymouth, much impressed him. Referring to the sacrifices in Leviticus, he said that, as the refuse of the animals was never offered up on the altar, but only the best parts and the fat, so the choicest of our time and strength, the best parts of our day, should be especially given to the Lord in worship and communion. George Müller meditated much on this; and determined, even at the risk of damage to bodily health, that he would no longer spend his hours in bed. Henceforth he allowed himself but seven hours' sleep and gave up his after-dinner rest. This resumption of early rising secured long seasons of uninterrupted interviews with God, in prayer and meditation on the Scriptures, before breakfast and the various inevitable interruptions that followed. He found himself not worse but better, physically, and became convinced that to have lain longer in bed as before would have kept his nerves weak; and, as to spiritual life, such new vitality and vigour accrued from thus waiting upon God while others slept, that it continued to be the habit of his after-life.
In November, I839, when the needs were again great and the supplies very small, he was kept in peace: "I was not," he says, looking at the little in hand, but at the fulness of God."
It was his rule to empty himself of all that he had in order to greater boldness in appealing for help from above. All needless articles were sold if a market could be found. But what was useful in the Lord's work he did not reckon as needless, nor regard it right to sell, since the Father knew the need. One of his fellow labourers had put forward his valuable watch as a security for the return of money laid by for rent, but drawn upon for the time; yet even this plan was not felt to be scriptural, as the watch might be reckoned among articles needful and useful in the Lord's service, and, if such expedients were quite abandoned, the deliverance would be more manifest of the Lord. And so, one by one, all resorts were laid aside that might imperil full trust and sole dependence upon the one and only Helper.
When the poverty of their resources seemed most pinching, Mr. Müller still comforted himself with the daily proof that God had not forgotten, and would day by day feed them with "the bread of their convenience." Often he said to himself,
"If it is even a proverb of the world that 'Man's necessity is God's opportunity,' how much more may God's own dear children in their great need look to Him to make their extremity the fit moment to display His love and power!"
In February, 1840, another attack of ill health combined with a mission to Germany to lead Mr. Müller for five weeks to the Continent. At Heimersleben, where he found his father weakened by a serious cough, the two rooms in which he spent most time in prayer and reading the Word, and confession of the Lord, were the same which, nearly twenty years before, he had passed most time as an unreconciled sinner against God and man. Later on, at Wolfenbüttel, he saw the inn whence in 1821 he away in debt. In taking leave once more of his father he was pierced by a keen anguish, fearing it was his last farewell, and an unusual tenderness and affection were now exhibited by his father, whom he yearned more and more to know as safe in the Lord Jesus, and depending no longer on outward and formal religiousness, or substituting the reading of prayers and of Scripture for an inward conformity to Christ. This proved the last interview, for the father died on March 30th of the same year.
The main purpose of this journey to Germany was to send forth more missionaries to the East. At Sandersleben Mr. Müller met his friend, Mr. Stahlschmidt, and found a little band of disciples meeting in secret to evade police. Those who have always breathed the atmosphere of religious liberty know little of such intolerance as, in that nominally Christian land, stifled all freedom of worship. Eleven years before, when Mr. Stahlschmidt's servant had come to this place, he had found scarce one true disciple beside his master. The first meetings had been literally of but two or three, and, when they had grown a little larger, Mr. Kroll was summoned before the magistrates and, like the apostles in the first days of the church, forbidden to speak in His name. But again, like those same primitive disciples, believing that they were to obey God rather than men, the believing band had continued to meet, notwithstanding police raids which were so disturbing, and government fines which were so exact. So secret, however, were their assemblies, as to have neither stated place nor regular time.
George Müller found these persecuted believers, meeting in the room of a humble weaver where there was but one chair. The twenty-five or thirty who were present found such places to sit or stand as they might, in and about the loom, which itself filled half the space.
In Halberstadt Mr. Müller found seven large Protestant churches without clergyman who gave evidence of true conversion, and the few genuine disciples there were likewise forbidden to meet together.
A few days after returning to Bristol from his few weeks in Germany, and at a time of great financial distress in the work, a letter reached him from a brother who had often before given money, as follows:
"Have you any present need for the Institution under your care? I know you do not ask, except indeed of Him whose work you are doing; but to answer when asked seems another thing, and a right thing. I have a reason for desiring to know the present state of your means towards the objects you are labouring to serve: viz.., should you not have need, other departments of the Lord's work, or other people of the Lord, may have need. Kindly then inform me, and to what amount, i.e. what amount you at this present time need or can profitably lay out."
To most men, even those who carry on a work of faith and prayer, such a letter would have been at least a temptation. But Mr. Müller did not waver. To announce even to an inquirer the exact needs of the work would, in his opinion, involve two serious risks:
1. It would turn his own eyes away from God to man;
2. It would turn the minds of saints away from dependence solely upon Him.
This man of God had staked everything upon one great experiment-- he had set himself to prove that the prayer which resorts to God only will bring help in every crisis, even when the crisis is unknown to His people whom He uses as the means of relief and help.
At this time there remained in hand but twenty-seven pence ha'penny, in all, to meet the needs of hundreds of orphans. Nevertheless this was the reply to the letter:
"Whilst I thank you for your love, and whilst I agree with you that, in general, there is a difference between asking for money and answering when asked,nevertheless, in our case, I feel not at liberty to speak about the state of our funds, as the primary object of the work in my hands is to lead those who are weak in faith to see that there is reality in dealing with God alone."
Consistently with his position, however, no sooner was the answer posted than the appeal went up to the Living God:
"Lord, thou knowest that, for Thy sake, I did not tell this brother about our need. Now, Lord, show afresh that there is reality in speaking to Thee only, about our need, and speak therefore to this brother so that he may help us."
In answer, God moved this inquiring brother to donate one hundred pounds, which came when not one penny was in hand.
The confidence of faith, long tried, had its increasing reward and was strengthened, by experience. In July, 1845, Mr. Müller gave this testimony reviewing these very years of trial:
"Though for about seven years, our funds have been so exhausted that it has been comparatively a rare case that there have been means in hand to meet the necessities of the orphans for three days together, yet I have been only once tried in spirit, and that was on September 18, 1838, when the first time the Lord seemed not to regard our prayer. But when He did send help at that time, and I saw that it was only for the trial of our faith, and not because He had forsaken the work, that we were brought so low, my soul was so strengthened and encouraged that I have not only not been allowed to distrust the Lord since that time, but I have not even been cast down when in the deepest poverty."
“I trust in Thy Word.” (Psalm 119:42).
Just in proportion in which we believe that God will do just what He has said, is our faith strong or weak. Faith has nothing to do with feelings, or with impressions, with improbabilities, or with outward appearances. If we desire to couple them with faith, then we are no longer resting on the Word of God because faith needs nothing of the kind. Faith rests on the naked Word of God. When we take Him at His Word, the heart is at peace.
God delights to exercise faith, first for blessing in our own souls, then for blessing in other believers’ lives at large, and also for those without. When trials come, we should say: “My Heavenly Father puts this cup of trial into my hands, that I may have something sweet afterwards.”
“Trials are the food of faith. Oh, let us leave ourselves in the hands of our Heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do god to all His children.
But trials and difficulties are not the only means by which faith is exercised and thereby increased. There is the reading of the Scriptures, that we may by them acquaint ourselves with God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
Are you able to say, from the acquaintance you have made with God through His Son, that He is a lovely Being? If not, let me affectionately entreat you to ask God to bring you to this, that you may admire the gentleness and kindness of the LORD Jesus Christ and His beauty, that you may be able to say how good He is, and what a delight it is to the heart of God to do good to His children.
Now the nearer we come to this in our inmost souls, the more ready we are to leave ourselves in His hands, satisfied with all His dealings with us. And when trial comes, we shall say:
“I will wait and see what good God will do to me by it, assured He will do it.” Thus we shall bear an honorable testimony before the world, and thus strengthen the hands of others.” – George Muller
January 1, 1841. During this week we have met daily for prayer, asking the Lord for the means to have last year's report printed. It is three weeks since it should have been sent to the press. If the report is not printed soon, people will know that it is because we lack money.
By the donations which came in during these last days for the orphans, and by ten pounds which was given today, we can pay for about two thirds of the printing. Therefore, we sent a part of the manuscript, trusting that the Lord would send in more money. But if not, we will wait until more comes in.
January 11. During the last week, the Lord not only supplied us richly with all we needed for the orphans, but He enabled us to put several pounds aside for printing the report. On Saturday evening only three shillings were left. I was expecting an answer to my prayers for funds, and the Lord did not disappoint me. More money came yesterday, and we now have enough to print the last part of the report.
January 12. Today I received a letter from a brother who gave me the right to draw upon his bank account during this year, up to one thousand pounds. It may be used for any brother or sister who have it in their hearts to serve as missionaries in the East Indies and whom I consider called for this service, as far as I am able to judge.
[This power lasted only for that year, but no suitable people offered themselves for this service. Finances can be obtained much more easily than suitable individuals. Indeed, in all my experience, I have found that if I could only settle that a certain thing to be done was according to the will of God, the money was soon obtained to carry it into effect.]
March 4. For the encouragement of believers who are tried by having unconverted relatives and friends, I will relate the following circumstance which I know is true. Baron von Kamp, who lived in Prussia, had been a disciple of the Lord Jesus for many years. In the year 1806, great financial distress came upon many thousands of weavers in the area. They had no employment because the whole continent was in an unsettled state from the war. The baron believed that it was the will of the Lord to use his wealth to furnish these poor weavers with work, in order to save them from complete ruin. There was not only no prospect of personal gain, but rather the certain prospect of immense loss. Nevertheless, he found employment for about six thousand weavers.
But the baron was not content with this. He also wanted to minister to the souls of these weavers.
He set believers as overseers over his immense weaving concern. The weavers were instructed in spiritual things, and he personally shared the truth of the gospel with them.
The work went on for a good while until at last, on account of the loss of most of his property, he was obliged to think about giving it up. But by this time, his precious act of mercy had proven its worth to the government. It was taken up by them and carried on until the times changed. Baron von-Kamp was appointed director of the whole concern as long as it existed.
This dear man of God was not content with this. He traveled through many countries to visit the prisons for the sake of improving the physical and spiritual condition of the prisoners. He also assisted poor students at the university of Berlin, especially those who studied theology, in order to win them for the Lord.
One day a talented young man heard of the aged baron's kindness to students. He wrote to the baron, requesting his assistance because his own father could not afford to support him any longer.
A short time afterward, young Thomas received a kind reply from the baron, inviting him to come to Berlin. But before this letter arrived, the young student had heard that Baron Von Kamp was a "pietist" or "mystic," as true believers were contemptuously called in Germany. Young Thomas was deeply involved in philosophy, reasoning about everything, questioning the truth of revelation, questioning even the existence of God. He disliked the prospect of going to the old baron for help. Still, he thought he could try, and if he did not like it, he was not obligated to remain in connection with him.
Thomas arrived in Berlin on a day when the baron was out of town on business. He began to speak about his philosophies to the steward of the baron. The steward, however, was a believer, and he turned the conversation to spiritual things.
At last the baron arrived. He received Thomas in the most affectionate and familiar manner. The baron offered him a room in his house and a place at his table while Thomas studied in Berlin. Thomas accepted the offer.
The baron now sought in every way to treat the young student in -the most kind and affectionate way, to serve him as much as possible, and to show him the power of the gospel in his own life. He did all this without arguing with him or even speaking to him directly about his soul. Thomas obviously had a skeptical mind, and the baron avoided getting into any argument with him. The student often said to himself, "I wish I could get into an argument with this old fool. I would show him how irrational his beliefs are." But the baron avoided it.
When the baron heard the young student come home in the evening, he would go to meet him and serve him in any way he could, even helping him to take off his boots. Thus this lowly, aged disciple went on for some time. While Thomas still sought an opportunity for arguing with him, he wondered how the baron could continue to serve him.
One evening when Thomas returned to the baron's house, the baron was making himself his servant as usual. The student could restrain himself no longer and burst out, "Baron, how can you do all this? You see I do not care about you. How are you able to continue to be so kind to me and serve me like this?"
The baron replied, "My dear young friend, I have learned it from the Lord Jesus. I wish you would read through the gospel of John. Good night."
The student now for the first time in his life sat down and read the Word of God with an open heart and a willingness to learn. Up to that time, he had never read the Holy Scriptures unless he wanted to find out arguments against them. God blessed him. From that time he became a follower of the Lord Jesus and has continued in the faith ever since.
May 7. The primary business I must attend to every day is to fellowship with the Lord. The first concern is not how much I might serve the Lord, but how my inner man might be nourished. I may share the truth with the unconverted; I may try to encourage believers; I may relieve the distressed; or I may, in other ways, seek to behave as a child of God; yet, not being happy in the Lord and not being nourished and strengthened- in my inner man day by day, may - result in this work being done in a wrong spirit.
The most important thing I had to do was to read the Word of God and to meditate on it. Thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, and instructed.
Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible. But I often spent a quarter of an hour to an hour on my knees struggling to pray while my mind wandered. Now I rarely have this problem. As my heart is nourished by the truth of the Word, I am brought into true fellowship with God. I speak to my Father and to my Friend (although I am unworthy) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.
It often astonishes me that I did not see the importance of meditation upon Scripture earlier in my Christian life. As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time unless he eats, so it is with the inner man. What is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God-not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe. No, we must consider what we read, ponder over it, and apply it to our hearts.
When we pray, we speak to God. This exercise of the soul can be best performed after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the Word of God. Through His Word, our Father speaks to us, encourages us, comforts us, -instructs us, humbles us, and reproves us. We may profitably meditate, with God's blessing, although we are spiritually weak. The weaker we are, the more meditation we need to strengthen our inner man. Meditation on God's Word has given me the help and strength to pass peacefully through deep trials. What a difference there is when the soul is refreshed in fellowship with God early in the morning! Without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day can be overwhelming.
October 1. When I had not one penny in hand-for the needs of this day, ten shillings were brought to me for the orphans. The enclosed note read: "Your heavenly Father knows that you need these things. Trust in the Lord." This word of our Lord is to me more valuable than many bank notes.
November 2. At the time of our great poverty, one pound was sent by a lady from Birmingham. About half an hour later, I received ten pounds from a brother who had saved up one hundred and fifty pounds. He put it into a savings bank, but he now sees that to devote this money to the work of God glorifies the name of Jesus more than to keep it in the savings bank for a time of sickness or old age. If such times come, the same Lord who has cared for him in health and strength will also care for him then.
In Matt. 6:19-21, it is written: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
The Lord Jesus, our Lord and Master, knows what is best for our true welfare and happiness. His disciples are strangers and pilgrims on earth-we neither belong to the earth nor expect to remain in it. Therefore, we should not seek to increase our earthly possessions.
This is a word for poor believers as well as for rich believers. It may be said; "But every prudent person seeks to increase his wealth that he may have plenty to leave his children or to have something for old age or for the time of sickness." This is the custom of the world. But we disciples of the Lord Jesus have been promised "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away" (1 Peter 1:4). If we seek, like the people of the world, to increase our possessions, those who are not believers may question whether we believe what we say about our inheritance and our heavenly calling.
Our Lord says that the earth is a place "where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." All that is of the earth, and in any way connected with it, is subject to corruption, change, and dissolution. No reality or substance exists in anything but heavenly things. Often the careful amassing of earthly possessions ends in losing them in a moment by fire, robbery, or a change in the world markets. Furthermore, in a little while, we all must leave this earth, or the Lord Jesus will return. What use will earthly possessions be then?
Our Lord, however, does not merely tell us not to lay up treasure on earth. If He had said no more, people may abuse this commandment and use it to encourage extravagant habits, spending everything they have or can obtain upon themselves. Jesus does not mean that we should live up to our income. He adds, "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Every penny given for the Lord's sake to poor brethren or to the work of God is a treasure laid up in the bank of heaven. When we go to heaven, we go to the place where our treasures are, and we shall find them there.
The Lord concludes: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Where should the heart of the disciple of the Lord Jesus be, but in heaven? Our calling is a heavenly calling, our inheritance is a heavenly inheritance, and our citizenship is in heaven. But if we believers in the Lord Jesus lay up treasures on earth, then our hearts will be on earth. laying up treasures in heaven will draw the heart heavenward. It brings along with it, even in this life, precious spiritual blessings as a reward of obedience to the commandment of our Lord.
November 13. I took one shilling out of the box in my house. This shilling was all our money for today. More than a hundred people must be provided for, and this is not the case once in a while, but very frequently. It is infinitely precious to have the living God as a Father to go to for help. Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus may claim His help since we are all children of God. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26). Although all believers in the Lord Jesus are not called upon to establish orphan houses and schools for poor children and to trust in God for means, all believers should cast all their care upon Him who cares for them. We need not be anxiously concerned about anything. (See 1 Peter 5:7, Phil. 4:6, and Matt. 6:25-34.)
Under these circumstances of need, a silver watch, which had become the property of the orphan fund yesterday afternoon, was sold to help us through the expenses of today.
The coal is almost gone in each of the houses, and every article of provision is greatly reduced. Truly, we are exceedingly poor. Nevertheless, we have the necessary provisions until Monday morning, and thus we are brought to the close of another week. This afternoon, all the workers met for prayer.
November 14. When we met again this afternoon for prayer, we had reason to praise, for the Lord had sent financial help.
November 15. Last Friday, brother Craik and I had a meeting for inquirers into the faith and new fellowship members. We spoke wish eight of them and had to send away ten since our strength was gone. This evening we saw seven and had to send away three.
December 9. We are now at the close of the sixth year of this part of the work. We are left with only the money which has been put aside for the rent. But throughout the year, we have been supplied with all that was needed.
During the last three years, we had closed the accounts on this day and held public meetings stating how the Lord had dealt with us during the year. The substance of those meetings was later printed for the benefit of the Church at large. This time, however, it appeared better to delay both the public meetings and the publishing of the report. Through grace we had learned to lean on the Lord only. If we never spoke or wrote one single word about this work, we would be supplied with means as long as we depended on Him. What better proof could we give of our dependence on the living God alone and not on public meetings or printed reports than that, in the midst of our deep poverty, we still went on working quietly without saying anything. Naturally, we would have been glad to expose our poverty. But spiritually we were able to delight in the prospect of the increased blessing that might be derived by the Church as we continue to express our needs to God alone.
December 23. In reading over my journal this year, I found that the Lord has given me many precious answers to prayer. On May 23 I began to ask the Lord to deliver a certain sister from the great spiritual depression she was suffering. After three days, the Lord granted my request.
During this year one of the greatest sinners I had ever known in all my service for the Lord was converted. Repeatedly, I prayed with ills wife for him. She came to me in deep distress on account of the cruel treatment she received from him because she wanted to live for the Lord. Her refusal to respond to his anger only infuriated him more.
At the time when the situation was at its worst, I pleaded the promise in Matt. 18:19: "Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." And now this awful persecutor has been converted!
On May 25 I began to ask the Lord for greater spiritual prosperity among the saints in Bristol than ever. Praise the Lord, He truly has answered this request. At no period has there been more manifestation of grace, truth, and spiritual power among us than there is now.
Chapter 3 - The Naked Trust of Faith
by Addresses from the Leominster Conference
Mr. Muller read Gen. 1. 24-26, and spoke on Faith-its naked trust, and its triumph in darkest hours:
In these verses we have a most precious illustration of what we are to understand by faith. The God of heaven had made promise to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob that He would give them the land of Canaan; and it was added that the descendants of Abraham were to sojourn long in a strange land. Now this man of God, Joseph, believed that God would be as good as His word. Although there was not the shadow of a natural appearance that that word would be fulfilled, yet he stayed his mind upon God-he took God at His word, and made the elders of Israel swear that they would take his bones with them to Canaan. "God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence."
Now just in the proportion in which we are enabled to believe that God will do just what He has said is our faith strong or weak. Faith has nothing to do with feelings or with impressions; it has nothing whatever to do with probabilities or with outward appearances. If we desire to couple them with faith, then we no longer are resting on the word of God, because faith needs nothing of the kind.
"Oh, if I could only feel so-and-so!" "If I only had the impression that God would do so-and-so;" "If I saw the least probability of it," are words often used. But, I repeat, faith needs no feelings, no impressions, no probabilities, but rests on the naked word of God, and has to do only with the revelation which we have in our hands. As in these days of darkness in which we live men will become more and more daring in their departure from the revealed will of God, let us see to it that we are satisfied with "It is written." As the disciples of Christ, the word of God is enough for us; and if we want more, we practically say that His revealed will is not enough, and thereby we dishonour Him.
We have also particularly to keep before us, that faith has not to do with this part of truth or that part merely, with this or that promise, but with all the revelation that God has been pleased to make of Himself, as much in the Old Testament as in the New. Whether it be prophetical books or historical books, the gospels or epistles, we take God at His word in every part. We only know God by the revelation that He has made of Himself, and faith has to do with revelation. When we take Him at His word the heart is at peace.
Now, beloved brethren, I will give you a few hints with regard to the increase of our faith. I have sought to explain what we are to understand by faith. Now let us see how it can be increased. God will do His part to increase our faith, but the means which He uses we oftentimes do not like. Trials, difficulties, disappointments, losses, bereavements, sickness-all these things are employed by our heavenly Father for the exercise and the increase of our faith. If an infant never used his limbs, they would always remain weak; but they are strengthened and invigorated by exercise. So it is with faith, and God delights to exercise our faith-first for blessing in. our own souls, then for blessing in the Church at large, and also for those without.
But this exercise we shrink from instead of welcoming. When trials come we should say, My heavenly Father puts this cup of trial into my hands, that I may have something sweet afterwards. Trial is the very food of faith. Oh, let us leave ourselves in the hands of our heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do good to all His children. He is an infinitely wise Father who knows what suits His children, and He orders all for blessing to us, as well as glory to His own name. And it is for this very reason that trials and afflictions come, and thus He shows how true is that word, "that all things work together for good to them that love God." Through our trials there is not only the exercise of patience, but the development and strengthening of faith in the degree in which all the other graces grow. You remember when Peter asked the question, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?" The Lord's answer is, "I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven." And what was the result of such an answer? We should have thought and said, "Lord, increase our love, our patience, our readiness to forgive the offending brother." But no, the answer is, "Lord, increase our faith;" Because if faith be in exercise, and we lay hold on the truth that we are ourselves forgiven, we shall always be ready to forgive one another.
But trials and difficulties are not the only means by which faith is exercised, and thereby increased. There is the reading of the Holy Scriptures, that we by them may acquaint ourselves with God as He has revealed Himself in His word. And what shall we find? That He not only is God Almighty, and a righteous God, but we shall find how gracious He is, how gentle, how kind, how bountiful He is; in a word, what a lovely Being God is.
Are you able to say from the acquaintance you have made with God that He is a lovely Being? If you are not able to say so, let me affectionately entreat you to ask God to bring you to this, that you may admire His gentleness and His kindness, that you may be able to say how good He is, and what a delight it is to the heart of God to do good to His children. Now the nearer we come to this in our inmost soul the more ready are we to leave ourselves in His hands, satisfied with all His dealings with us. And when trial comes we shall say, "I will wait to see what good God will do me by it, assured that He will do it." Thus shall we bear an honourable testimony before the world, and thus shall we strengthen the hands of others. But if we faint under the trial we shall weaken their hands.
In order to trust in God we must acquaint ourselves with Him, as He has in the Scriptures revealed Himself. You know Psalm ix. 10, "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee." It is not said that those who preach about God, or those who write about God, will put their trust in Him; but those who know His name-those who have learned from His word what He is.
Now, by way of illustration, I will refer to myself. The promises we have in Matt. vi. as to food and raiment, and all the affairs of this life, are given that we may have no anxious care for the morrow, knowing that sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. All this I have for fifty-four years found to be literally true in my own happy experience. I have found during all these years that God has always acted according to His word. Therefore if any are tried let them remember the word of promise, and let them stay themselves upon it; and they shall find that God most assuredly will act according to His word. This I have found in my own experience; so I stay my heart upon God, trusting Him to help me through every difficulty; and I have never been allowed to sink, because I rested myself on the Word. He hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee;" "As thy days, so shall thy strength be;" so that I am able to say, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Difficulties have vanished away, or if they did not vanish away, God did so help and strengthen me that they did not trouble me. These precious promises are given to every child of God; and we have to take them and to say, They belong to me, poor, wicked, hell-deserving though I am. And so I say, these promises belong to George Muller, this poor sinner who never deserved anything but hell; and I have found that God is as good as His word. This I have found for the last fifty years, during which time I have required hundreds of helpers in my work, and these God has given me. For you are unable to make helpers, and there is no society that can provide them for you; but God by His Spirit can fit and qualify them for the work; therefore I have given myself to prayer, and have not sought to obtain them by advertisements, and God has shown me how He delights to answer, and has provided me with suitable helpers.
Then in all the little things connected with this life I have found what a blessed thing it is to have the heart stayed on God. I do not carry the little trials myself; and you know that life is made up of little things. If we do not take them to God we are not happy, the mind is ruffled, and we are in danger of becoming irritable. But if the little things are taken back to God we shall find how ready He is to help us with them. And all this has to do with the revealed will of God.
One point more. Simply in answer to prayer I have received more than a million pounds sterling, simply by looking to the Lord; but far more than this: in like manner I have trusted Him for spiritual blessings, and in answer to prayer I have received tens of thousands. Many thousands of souls have been given me from the Orphan-houses and various schools, who are now walking in the ways of the Lord, and thousands have gone before. All this also was obtained by trusting in God; for He gives souls also, not only money. We have to trust God for everything. Let me say to you then, Learn more and more, more and more to trust in God.
Now it may be said, "But you have the gift of faith, and we have not." The reply is, "I have no gift of faith; my faith is precisely the same as yours; only while it is the same it may have been more exercised, and therefore having been more exercised is a little stronger; but it is the self-same faith which we all have who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ."
Oh, seek, beloved in Christ, to have your faith developed arid strengthened! Be satisfied with all God's dealings with you, and be sure that He intends them for blessings to your souls.
“The children are dressed and ready for school. But there is no food for them to eat,” the housemother of the orphanage informed George Mueller. George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as he always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.” Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children."
On October 7, 1830, I was united in marriage to Miss Mary Groves. This step was taken after much prayer and from a full conviction that it was better for me to be married. I have never regretted either the step itself or the choice, but I am truly grateful to God for giving me such a wife.
About this time, I began to have conscientious objections against receiving a salary by renting pews. According to James 2:1-6, this practice is against the mind of the Lord because the poor brethren cannot afford as good a seat as the rich. A brother may gladly give something toward my support if the choice is up to him. But when he has other expenses, I do not know whether he pays his money grudgingly or cheerfully, and God loves a cheerful giver. The renting of pews is also a snare to the servant of Christ. Fear of offending those who pay his salary has kept many ministers from preaching the uncompromising Word of God.
For these reasons, I told the brethren that at the end of October, 1830, I would give up my regular salary. After I had given my reasons for doing so, I read Phil. 4. If the saints wanted to give something toward my support by voluntary gifts, I had no objection to receiving it either in money or provisions. A few days later. I realized that if I personally received' every single gift, much of my time and that of the donors would be lost. Also, the poor might be embarrassed to give me a small amount. Others might give more than if the gifts were anonymous. Therefore, it would still be doubtful whether the gifts were given grudgingly or cheerfully. For these reasons, we put a box in the chapel with a sign explaining that whoever had a desire to give something toward my support could put his offering into the box.
My wife and I had the grace to take the Lord's commandment in Luke 12:33 literally, "Sell that ye have, and give alms." We never regretted taking that step. God blessed us abundantly as He taught us to trust in Him alone. When we were down to our last few shillings, we told Him about our needs and depended on Him to provide. He never failed us.
On November 18, 1830, our money was reduced to about eight shillings. When I was praying with my wife in the morning, I was led to ask the Lord for money. Four hours later, a sister said to me, "Do you want any money?"
I replied, "I told the brethren when I gave up my salary that I would tell the Lord only about my wants."
She said, "But He has told me to give you some money. About two weeks ago I asked Him what I should do for Him, and He told me to give you some money. Last Saturday the thought came again powerfully to my mind and has not left me since."
My heart rejoiced at seeing the Lord's faithfulness, but I thought it was better not to tell her about our circumstances, lest she would be influenced, to give accordingly. If it was of the Lord, she would be moved to give. I turned the conversation to other subjects, but she gave me enough money to last all week. My wife and I were full of joy on account of the goodness of the Lord. He did not try our faith much at first, but allowed us to see His willingness to help us. Liter, He tested our faith more fully.
The next Wednesday I went to Exmouth. Our money was again reduced to about nine shillings. I asked the Lord on Thursday to please give me some money. On Friday morning about eight o'clock, while in prayer, I was led to ask again for money. Before I rose from my knees, I felt fully assured that we would have the answer that same day. An hour later, I left the brother with whom I was staying, and he gave me some money. He said, "Take this for the expenses connected with your coming to us." I did not expect to have my expenses paid, but I saw the Lord's fatherly hand in this blessing.
When I came home about twelve o'clock, I asked my wife whether she had received any letters. She told me she had received one the day before from a brother who sent three sovereigns. Thus, even my prayer on the preceding day had been answered. The next day one of the brethren came and brought me four pounds which was due to me as a part of my former salary. I did not even know that this sum was due to me. Within thirty hours, in answer to prayer, I received seven pounds ten shillings.
Throughout 1830, the Lord richly supplied all my temporal needs, although I could not depend upon any human for a single shilling; Even regarding temporal things, I had lost nothing by acting according to the dictates of my conscience. In spiritual things, the Lord dealt bountifully with me and used me as an instrument in doing His work.
On the 6th, 7th, and 8th of January 1831, I repeatedly asked the Lord for money but received none. A few times I was tempted to distrust the Lord, although He had been so gracious to us. Up to this time, He had not only supplied all our needs but had given us many miraculous answers' to prayer. I began to think it would be of no use to trust in the Lord this time. Perhaps I had gone too far in living by faith.
But praise the Lord! This trial lasted only a few minutes. He enabled me to trust in Him, and Satan was immediately defeated. When I returned to my room only ten minutes later, the Lord sent deliverance. A sister brought us two pounds four shillings. The Lord triumphed, and our faith was strengthened.
When we again had only a few shillings, we were given five pounds from the offering box. I had asked the brethren to please let me have the money in the box every week. But they either forgot to take it out weekly or were ashamed to bring such small sums. It was generally taken out every three to five weeks. I explained to them that I desired to look neither to man nor the box but to God. Therefore, I decided not to remind them of my request to have the money weekly, lest it hinder the testimony I wished to give of trusting in God alone.
On January 28, we had little money again although I had seen a brother open the box and take out the money four days earlier. But I would not ask him to let me have it. When the coals for our fire were almost gone, I asked the Lord to incline the brother's heart to bring the money to us. Shortly afterward, it was given to us, and our temporal needs were supplied.
The Lord has kept me from speaking, either directly or indirectly, about my needs. In a few instances I have spoken to very poor brethren to encourage them to trust in the Lord, telling them that I had to do the same.
On February 14 we again had very little money, and I asked the Lord to supply our needs. The instant that I got up from my knees, a brother gave me one pound which had been taken out of the box.
In March I was again tempted to doubt the faithfulness of the Lord. Although I was not worried about money, I was not fully resting upon Him so that I could triumph with joy. One hour later the Lord gave me another proof of His faithful love. A Christian lady brought five sovereigns for us, with these words written on paper: "I was hungry and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink."
On the morning of April 16 our money was reduced to three shillings. I said to myself, "I must now go and ask the Lord earnestly for fresh supplies." But before I had prayed, two pounds were sent from Exeter as proof that the Lord hears before we call.
Some may say that such a way of life leads a Christian away from the Lord and from caring about spiritual things. They say it may cause the mind to be occupied with questions like: "What shall I eat, what shall I drink, and what shall I wear?" I have experienced both ways and know that my present manner of living by trusting God for temporal things is connected with less care. Trusting the Lord for the supply of my temporal needs keeps me from anxious thoughts like: "Will my salary last and will I have enough for the next month?" In this freedom I am able to say, "My Lord is not limited. He knows my present situation, and He can supply all I need." Rather than causing anxiety, living by faith in God alone keeps my heart in perfect peace.
This way of living has often revived the work of grace in my heart when I began to grow spiritually cold. It also has brought me back again to the Lord after I had been backsliding. It is not possible to live: in sin, and at the same time, by communion with God, draw down from heaven everything one needs for this life. Frequently, a fresh answer to prayer quickens my soul and fills me with great joy.
In June brother Craik and I went to Torquay to preach. When I came home, my wife had about three shillings left. We waited upon the Lord, but no money came. The next morning, we were still waiting on the Lord and looking for deliverance. We had only a little butter left for breakfast, sufficient for a visiting brother and a relative. We did not mention our circumstances to them so that they would not be made uncomfortable.
After the morning prayer meeting, our brother unexpectedly opened the offering box and gave me the money. He told me that he and his wife could not sleep last night because they thought that we might need money. I had repeatedly asked the Lord for the money but received nothing. But when I prayed that the Lord would impress it on the brother that we needed money, he opened the box and gave it to me.
One morning in November I suggested we pray about our temporal needs. Just as we were about to pray, a parcel came from Exmouth. We asked the Lord for meat for dinner since we had no money to buy any. After prayer, we opened the parcel and found a ham!
My wife and I never went into debt because we believed it to be unscriptural according to Rom. 13:8, "Owe no man anything, but to love one another." Therefore, we have no bills with our tailor, butcher, or baker, but we pay for everything in cash. We would rather suffer need than contract debts. Thus, we always know how much we have, and how much we can give away. Many trials come upon the children of God on account of not acting according to Rom. 13:8.
November 27 was the Lord's day. Our money had been reduced to two pence. Our bread was hardly enough for the day. I brought our need before the Lord several times. When I gave thanks after lunch, I asked Him to give us our daily bread, meaning literally that He would send us bread for the evening. While I was praying, there was a knock at the door. A poor sister came in and brought us some of her dinner and five shillings. Later, she also brought us a large loaf of bread. Thus, the Lord not only gave us bread but also money.
At the end of the year, we looked back and realized that all our needs had been met more abundantly than if I had received a regular salary. We are never losers from doing the will of the Lord. I have not served a hard Master, and that is what I delight to show.
God was also faithful to heal my physical infirmities. One Saturday afternoon, I broke a blood vessel in my stomach and lost a considerable quantity of blood. Immediately after I prayed, I began to feel better. Two brethren called on me to ask what arrangement should be made for a preacher at the Sunday services. I asked them to come again in about an hour when I would give them an answer.
After they were gone, the Lord gave me faith to get out of bed. I dressed and decided to go to the chapel. Walking the short distance to the chapel was an exertion to me in my weakened condition, but I preached that morning with a loud and strong voice for the usual length of time.
After the morning meeting, my doctor called on me and told me not to preach again in the afternoon because I could greatly injure myself. I told him that I would consider it great presumption if the Lord had not given me the faith to do it. That afternoon I preached again, and he called and said the same concerning the evening meeting. Nevertheless, having faith, I preached in the evening. After each meeting I became stronger, which was plain proof that the hand of God was in the matter.
The next day, the Lord enabled me to rise early in the morning and go to our usual prayer meeting, where I read, spoke, and prayed. Later I wrote four letters, studied the Scriptures at home, and attended the meeting again in the evening. My health improved every day. I attended the two meetings as usual, preached in the evening, and did my other work besides. In less than a week, I was as well as I was before I broke the blood vessel.
Do not attempt to imitate me in this matter if you do not have the faith. But if you do, it will most assuredly be honored by God. I often prayed with sick believers until they were restored. When I ask the Lord for the blessing of bodily health, my request almost always is granted. In answer to my prayers, I was immediately restored from a bodily infirmity which had afflicted me for a long time, and it has never returned since.
Charles Inglis, the well-known evangelist, relates the following remarkable incident:
"When I first came to America thirty-one years ago, I crossed the Atlantic with the captain of a steamer who was one of the most devoted men I ever knew; and when we were off the banks of Newfoundland he said to me: 'Mr. Inglis, the last time' I crossed here, five weeks ago, one of the most extraordinary things happened that has completely revolutionized the whole of my Christian life. Up to that time I was one of your ordinary Christians. We had a man of God on board, George Mueller, of Bristol. I had been on that bridge for twenty-two hours and never left it. I was startled by someone tapping me on the shoulder. It was George Mueller.
Captain,' said he, 'I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.' This was Wednesday.
It is impossible,' I said. Very well, if your ship can't take me God will find some other means of locomotion to take me.
I have never broken an engagement in fifty-seven years.'
I would willingly help you, but how can I? I am helpless.'
Let us go down to the chart room and pray,' he said.
"I looked at this man and I thought to myself, 'What lunatic asylum could the man have come from? I never heard of such a thing.'
"'Mr. Mueller,' I said, 'do you know how dense this fog is?'
No,' he replied, 'my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.'
"He went down on his knees, and he prayed one of the most simple prayers. I thought to myself, 'That would suit a children's class, where the children were not more than eight or nine years of age.' The burden of his prayer was something like this: 'O Lord, if it is consistent with Thy will, please remove this fog in five minutes. You know the engagement You made for me in Quebec for Saturday. I believe it is Your will.'
"When he had finished, I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray.
First,' he said, 'you do not believe God will do it; and, second, I believe He has done it. And there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.'
I looked at him, and George Mueller said this: 'Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years and there has never been a single day that I have failed to gain an audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door, and you will find the fog is gone.' I got up, and the fog was gone. On Saturday afternoon George Mueller was in Quebec."