Chapter 1 - The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength
Addresses from the Leominster Conference by Muller, George
Mr. Muller then spoke on Neh. viii. 10.-"The joy of the Lord is your strength" is the divine testimony here given; and the measure of our joy is the measure of our strength. How important then is it that we should seek to enter into what God has given us in and through our Lord Jesus Christ! By nature we were the slaves of Satan, of the world, and sin. Through faith in Jesus Christ we have obtained spiritual liberty; we have gained the victory. Do we enter into this, beloved in Christ, and rejoice in it? It is something infinitely more precious than civil or religious liberty. It is victory over sin, Satan, and self! Let us seek to enter into it, in order that our joy in the Lord may yet more and more increase. For this the precious blood of Christ was shed. Nothing, nothing but that precious blood could have obtained such a victory for us; and as once more we have been permitted to adore our Lord Jesus Christ at His table, let us seek to enter into the joy of this spiritual liberty.
Then again, naturally we are dead in trespasses and sins. Although we can be occupied with the affairs of this life, yet spiritual life by nature we have none. But now we are no longer the children of wrath, but the children of God; not in name, but in reality. God Almighty, the infinitely wise One, the infinitely rich One, the infinitely gracious One, is our Father for time and for eternity.
Oh, the blessedness of having a Father in heaven, and of feeling that we have not to stand alone, but that in our weakness and nothingness we can draw, through our Lord Jesus Christ, out of His inexhaustible fulness, for everything we can possibly need for mind and body, as well as for the inner man, for our service and its difficulties, whatever they may be. We have a Father in heaven to whom we can go; upon whom we can cast our burden. And not only has He advised us to do this, but He has commanded us to do it. Now, are we in the habit of doing this? or do we carry the burdens ourselves? Do we habitually speak to our heavenly Father about every matter that concerns us?
Are we walking through this world with Him, dealing with Him about everything? or do we go alone in our own strength, leaning on nature's experience?
Ah, day by day let us value the precious blood of Christ, which has brought us nigh unto God, which has given us now this precious privilege of bringing all our matters to Him, vile and wretched as we are. We can do this now, for He loves us now; and will love us throughout eternity. Does each one of us say, I am a dear child of my heavenly Father? Do we habitually say, God loves me, I am precious to Him? Is this the language of our hearts, or do we think this would be presumptuous? Verily it is not. The words of the Lord Jesus are, "The Father Himself Ioveth you." He loves us as He loves His Son. Well, if He loves me as He loves Christ-with an infinite love, with a love that cannot be stronger than it is-how precious I must be in His sight! How comes all this? It is because I belong to Christ; because I am clean every whit.
Now, can I enter into this without being happy? I may talk about it; I may read and write about it; but it is impossible for me to feast on it without being exceedingly happy. The heart must be filled with gratitude to God for the gift of Jesus; and it must be filled with love to that adorable Lord Jesus who gave Himself. To Him we are indebted for all this; therefore we cannot help loving God, we cannot but love the Lord Jesus. And the language of our hearts is, What can I do, my heavenly Father, to show my love to thee? What can I do for thee, my precious Lord Jesus, seeing thou hast done so much for me? Oh, let us seek to enter into this truth by these emblems of the bread and wine which we have before us. For the more we seek to enter into this, and understand what God has done for us, not only the happier shall we be, but the holier.
Then again all our numberless transgressions are all forgiven; so that not one sin, in word, thought, or deed, stands against us. All, all is forgiven; so that before God we are as clean as though we had never been guilty of one single sin in all our lives. It is impossible to enter into this without having the heart moved with love and gratitude to God for having given us His Son, and to Christ for having given Himself.
My brethren, do we all enjoy the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins? Should there be one here without the enjoyment of this knowledge, let me affectionately entreat you not to rest until you come to it. For fifty-eight years and nine months I have uninterruptedly enjoyed the knowledge of the forgiveness of my sins. And thus my beloved younger brethren should not think this is impossible to attain and enjoy. It may be enjoyed, one year after another, and one ten years after another ten years. But you must seek to walk in the ways of God, to act according to the light which God's word gives you, if you desire to be happy in the Lord; for there is the most intimate connection between holiness and happiness. "The joy of the Lord is your strength."
Again, there is an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, which must be possessed by every one of the children of God; for we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, for the inheritance which is laid up for us in heaven, so that, as assuredly as we trust in Jesus Christ, so must the inheritance be ours.
And then further, we look on to obtain a glorified body at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ on the morning of the resurrection, the resurrection of the just, when we shall see Him as He is, and be like Him in spirit, soul, and body.
We are in conflict now, for Satan is not yet bruised under our feet. We are not altogether like Christ yet, but this will be our blessed portion when we shall see Him as He is. Entering into all this blessed enjoyment, how can I but be happy? I cannot but be constrained to please God; I must be drawn to live for Him, to serve Him, to labour for Him.
Now while this joy of the Lord may not only be obtained and continued to us, it has been my sorrowful experience in my pastoral life to know many who set out well, but after a few years turned back to the poor and beggarly things of this world; in some cases after fifteen years, twenty years; in others after five and twenty years, and thirty years. But there should be found in the disciples of the Lord, one ten years after another, an increasingly devoted life of love to the Lord. There is nothing whatever to make this impossible; if there were the Lord would not have sent that message to the Church at Ephesus, "Nevertheless I have against thee, that thou hast left thy first love." And this after He had commended them for so many things. Brethren, have we left our first love? Allow me affectionately to ask you, How is it with you? Are you as much alive to the things of God, as much in earnest as when you were converted? Are you as much dead to the world, and is your heart as filled with the love of Jesus as at the first? If you cannot answer in the affirmative there is something wrong.
Allow me also affectionately to put these questions to the heart of every beloved brother and sister present. How do you stand towards the Lord Jesus? How do you stand towards your Heavenly Father? How do you stand towards the world? How do you stand towards your brethren and sisters in Christ? How is it with you? Have you made progress in the ways of the Lord? Ah ! my brethren, progress, progress, progress must have been made, or certainly there has been a going back; for there is no such thing as standing still. In looking back, then, individually over the three, or five, or ten, or fifty years, how is it with us? How do we stand before God now? How deeply important it is that the joy of the Lord attained at the first be continued. Although growing older and older in years, we should still be fat and flourishing, mounting up heavenwards like the eagle, so that the latter part of our pilgrimage should be the brightest and the best.
We are not straitened in God. The Holy Ghost is the same; the Word is the same; the Lord Jesus Christ is the same; and our Heavenly Father has not turned His back upon us. So far as God is concerned, and so far as His truth is concerned, there is no reason why we should not make progress in the divine life.
Now allow an aged brother to throw out a few hints, whereby this progress may be attained. (1) The whole heart must be surrendered to the Lord. If this is not done, be assured you cannot make progress. Perhaps someone says, I wish it were so; but how can I attain it? If you have but one single object for which you live for yourself-I do not say five, nor four, nor three, nor two, but one-if you have but one object for your own self, your heart is not surrendered to the Lord. If your heart has been surrendered to God, you will live alone for Him. Have you attained to this one single object of living for God? I do not ask you if you are perfectly free from sin, if you are perfectly conformed to the mind of God. I have never seen one who could say that, nor do I expect to find such an one while in the body. We must aim at it. Paul had not attained it, though he sought more and more to apprehend that for which he was apprehended in Christ Jesus. I am not speaking of perfection in the flesh, but of the full surrender of the heart to the Lord; and this I judge to be necessary if we desire that the joy of the Lord be continued to us.
(2) But there is another thing. Being perfectly weak in ourselves we must not merely desire this godly purpose of having but one object in life, but we must seek help of God to carry out our purpose; and therefore we must acknowledge our weakness and helplessness in regard to it. And not only must we begin to do this, but we must go on day by day, and every day, to the end of our course, if we would live to His honour and praise.
Another means to this (3), and deeply important, is that we come to the word of God to obtain food for our inner man. Now how does it stand with you-first, as to prayer and owning your own: weakness day by day before the Lord; and then as to obtaining help from the Lord through the Scriptures? Everybody now seems to have the newspaper pressed upon them. I do not say it is a sin to read the newspaper; some men may need to read it on account of their business. But this let me say, Take heed that the time which you should give to the word of God be not given to the newspaper.
Then again, there are thousands of religious periodicals pressed upon us; and the danger is that we give our time to them instead of to the word of God. For let us remember that human writings can never take the place of the Holy Scriptures; it is the book of God that must be the food of the soul. Are we lovers then of the word of God? I ask this question because for three years and a half I was not a lover of the word of God. I read it now and again. But in July, 1829, I became a lover of the Scriptures; so that last July it was fifty-five years since I have been a lover of the Scriptures. Now without this I should not expect to be truly happy; therefore I again ask the question, Are we lovers of the word of God? If not, let me beseech and entreat you to aim at it, and not to be satisfied until you prefer the book of God to every other book. Let it be a delight to turn to the Scriptures; it is a necessity for our joy in the Lord.
(4) Then again, we must read the Scriptures that we may carry out the truths contained in them, to show forth the truth in our lives. And if at any time we fail, let us make honest confession of our failure before God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us come again to the precious blood that makes us clean, and seek to act no more in like manner. And again let us surrender ourselves to the Lord; and it is certain that this joy will not only continue, but will abound more and more. God grant that this may be the case with everyone of us, for Jesus' sake.
September 16, 1838. Lord's day afternoon. We met again to pray for supplies for the orphans. We are at peace, and our hope is in God. He will help us although only one shilling has come in since last evening.
September 17. The trial continues. It is now more trying to our faith each day, but I am sure God will send help, if we wait. Several people gave us a few shillings which enabled us to pay the current expenses and to purchase provisions so that nothing in any way has been lacking.
My faith was tried because of the long delay of larger sums coming. When I went to the Scriptures for comfort, my soul was greatly refreshed by Psa. 39. I went cheerfully to meet with my dear fellow-laborers for prayer, read them the Psalm, and encourage them with the precious promises contained in it.
September 18. We received one pound eight shillings to buy the meat and bread which was needed, a little tea for one of the houses, and milk for all-no more than this is needed. Thus the Lord has provided not only for this day, but there is money for bread for the next two days. Now, however, we are in dire straits again. The funds are exhausted. The laborers who had a little money have given their last shillings.
Now observe how the Lord helped us! A lady from London brought a parcel with money and rented a room next door to the Boys' Orphan House. This afternoon she brought me the money which amounted to three pounds two shillings and sixpence. We were at the point of selling these things which could be spared, but this morning I asked the Lord to provide for us in another way.
The money had been near the Orphan Houses for several days without being given. That proved to me that it was in the heart of God from the beginning to help us. But because He delights in the prayers of His children, He allowed us to pray so long. Our tried faith made the answer much sweeter.
I burst into loud praise and thanks the first moment I was alone. I met with my fellow-laborers again this evening for prayer and praise, and their hearts were greatly cheered. This money will easily provide for all that will be needed tomorrow.
September 22. Both yesterday and today we have assembled for prayer and praise. We are in no immediate need, but on the 29th, the rent of the three Orphan Houses will be due. My comfort is in the living God. During this week He helped me in such a remarkable way that it would have been doubly sinful not to have trusted in Him for help under this fresh difficulty. No money came in this morning. About two, the usual time when the teachers are paid, a sovereign was given which partially paid the weekly teacher's salaries. I found that the headmaster had received a sovereign in the morning. By this sovereign, together with the one I had received just at the moment when it was needed, we were helped through this day.
September 25. We still meet for daily prayer. In four days the rent for the Orphan Houses will be due, and we have nothing for it. Also the housekeeping money in the three houses is gone again. May the Lott' have compassion on us and continue to help us!
September 29. Prayer has been made for several days concerning the rent which is due today. I have been expecting the money, although I did not know where a shilling was to come from. This morning the headmaster called on me, and we prayed together from ten until a quarter to twelve. Twelve o'clock struck, the time when the rent should have been paid, but no money had been sent. For some days I have repeatedly had a misgiving, whether the Lord might not answer us, in order that we would begin to set money aside daily for the rent.
This is only the second complete failure of answer to prayer in the ministry during the past four years and six months. The first was about the half-yearly rent of Castle-Green classrooms due July 1, 1837, which had come in only in part by that time. I am now fully convinced that the rent should be put aside daily or weekly as God prospers us, in order that the work, even in this point, may be a testimony. May the Lord help us to act accordingly, and may He mercifully send in the money to pay the rent!
October 2. The Lord has dealt most bountifully with us during the last three days! Five pounds came in for the orphans. Oh, how kind is the Lord! Yesterday, more came in and defrayed the housekeeping expenses. The Lord also helped me to pay the rent.
October 9. Today we were brought lower than ever. The money for milk in one of the houses was provided by a laborer selling one of his books. The matrons in the Boys' Orphan House had two shillings left this morning. We were wondering whether to buy bread with it or more meat for dinner when the baker left seventy-five loaves of bread as a gift.
October 10. The coal in the Infant Orphan House is gone, and there is little more in the other two houses. Also, the medicine is nearly all gone. We have asked the Lord for fresh supplies.
October 11. The "Father of the fatherless" has again shown His care for us. An orphan from Devonshire arrived last evening. With her was sent some money and silver articles that we sold for sixteen pounds. Thus we were helped through the heavy expenses of the following days: October 12. Seven brothers and sisters were added to us in fellowship. May the Lord send helpers for the work!
October 15. I knew that money would be needed this morning for many things in the Orphan Houses, and my heart was therefore lifted up in prayer to the Lord. Just when I was going to meet my fellow-laborers for prayer, several pounds arrived. We were able to purchase medicine and a ton of coal. Now, however, we must depend on the love of our Lord for further supplies because there is nothing in hand, and the laborers do not have any more of their own to give.
October 29. The Lord has again given us this day our daily bread, although in the morning there was not the least prospect of obtaining supplies. We are trusting in God day by day. He meets our needs faithfully in so many ways as we wait patiently upon Him. Our needs are great, but His help is also great.
November 10. All seemed to be dark at the beginning of this day. But the Lord has enabled us to meet all financial demands. One more week has ended, and we have been able to supply the needs of ninety-seven people in the Orphan Houses, without going into debt.
November 21. Not even a single halfpenny was left in the three houses. Nevertheless, we had a good dinner, and by sharing our bread, we made it through this day also. When I left the brothers and sisters after prayer, I told them we must wait for help and see how the Lord would deliver us this time. I was sure of help, but we were indeed in another serious situation.
When I left the meeting, I felt that I needed more exercise so I walked home a longer way. About twenty yards from my house, I met a brother who walked back with me. After a little conversation, he gave me ten pounds to provide the poor saints with coal, blankets, and warm clothing. He also gave five pounds for the orphans and five pounds for the other needs of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. The brother had come to see me twice while I was away at the Orphan House. Had I been one half minute later, I would have missed him. But the Lord knew our need, and therefore allowed me to meet him.
November 24. This has been a very remarkable day. We had little money in hand this morning, and several pounds were needed. But God, who is rich in mercy and whose Word positively declares that none who trust in Him will be disappointed, has helped us through this day also. While I was in prayer about the funds, I was informed that a gentleman had called to see me. He informed me that a lady ordered three sacks of potatoes to be sent to the Orphan Houses. They could not have come at a better time! This was an encouragement to me to continue to expect help.
November 28. This is perhaps the most remarkable day as yet! When I was in prayer this morning, I firmly believed that the Lord would send help, although all seemed dark to natural appearances. At twelve o'clock I met as usual With the brothers and sisters for prayer. Only one shilling had come in, and all but two pence had already been spent. I found that we had everything necessary for the dinner in the three houses, but neither in the Infant's nor in the Boys' Orphan House was there enough bread for tea or money to buy milk. We united in prayer, leaving the situation in the hands of the Lord.
While we prayed, there was a knock at the door, and one of the sisters went out. After the two brethren and I had prayed aloud, we continued for a while silently in prayer. I was lifting up my heart to the Lord, asking Him to make a way for our escape. I asked Him if there was any other thing which I could do with a good conscience, besides waiting on Him, so that we might have food for the children.
At last we rose from our knees. I said, "God will surely send help." The words had not quite passed over my lips when I saw a letter lying on the table, which had been brought while we were in prayer. It contained ten pounds for the orphans.
Last evening a brother asked me whether the money in hand for the orphans would be as large this time, when the accounts would be closed, as it was the last time. My answer was that it would be as great as the Lord pleased. The next morning, this brother was moved to send ten pounds for the orphans which arrived after I had left my house, and which, on account of our need, was forwarded immediately to me. He also sent ten pounds to be divided between Brother Craik and me to purchase new clothes.
November 29. The Lord has greatly blessed our meetings for prayer. We pray much for the children in the Orphan Houses, in the day schools, and in the Sunday school. We also pray for ourselves and for the teachers that grace may be given to us to walk before the children and to deal, with them in such a way that the Lord may be glorified. We also intercede for the believers with whom we are in fellowship and for the Church at large. We especially pray that our work may lead the Church to a more simple confidence and trust in the Lord.
These meetings have not been in vain. Larger donations of fifty and one hundred pounds came in. One sister told us that she gave in obedience to scriptural exhortations-"Having food and raiment let us be therewith content" (1 Tim. 6:8). "Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth" (Luke 12:33). "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" (Matt. 6:19-20).
Fifty pounds have been given for the school, Bible, and missionary fund. We would not order more Bibles until we had the means to pay for them. We repeatedly prayed concerning this need for Bibles. We also asked God to supply us abundantly, if it was His will, that at the public meetings we might be able to speak again of God's gracious provision. Otherwise, it might appear that we had scheduled the meeting for the sake of telling people about our poverty, and thus induce them to give.
December 11, 12, and 13. On the evenings of these last three days, we held public meetings. I gave an account of the Lord's dealing with us in the Orphan Houses and the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. Because the work, particularly that of the Orphan Houses, was begun for the benefit of the Church at large, we believed that from time to time it should be publicly stated how the Lord has dealt with us. On December 9, the third year was completed since the beginning of the orphan ministry. Therefore, this seemed to be a suitable time for having these meetings.
Presently a Sunday school is supported by the Scriptural Knowledge Institution which teaches 463 children. This part of the work calls for particular thanksgiving. During these last eighteen months, the number of the children is nearly three times as great as it used to be. Five of the scholars have been converted within the last two years and are now in fellowship with the church. Three of them are now teachers in the school.
Over 120 adults have been instructed, and twelve have been taught to read. The Institution entirely supported several day schools for poor children-three for boys and three for girls. The number of all the children that have had schooling in the day schools through the Institution is 1,534. In the six schools, we have 342 children.
During the last two years we circulated 1,884 copies of the Scriptures in connection with the Institution, and since the beginning of the work, 5,078 copies. Missionary work has been supported also.
Eighty-six orphans live in the three houses. The number of orphans who have been under our care from April 11, 1836, to December 9, 1838, amounts to 110.
December 16. A paper was anonymously placed into the box at Bethesda Chapel containing four pounds ten shillings. In the paper was written, "For the rent of the Orphan Houses from December 10 to December 31, 1838."
"O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him!" (Psa. 34:8). The individual who gave this four pounds ten shillings for the rent of the Orphan Houses decided to give regularly, but anonymously, one pound ten shillings every week which was exactly the sum required for the rent of those three houses. Thus the Lord rewarded our obedience.
December 20. The expenses for the orphans have been more than forty-seven pounds within the last six days, and only a little above thirteen pounds has come in. We are again very low in funds.
I gave myself this morning to prayer. About a quarter of an hour afterward - I received three pounds, the payment of a will left by a sister who died several months ago.
December 22. A solemn day. I received word that my brother died on October 7. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25). This must be the comfort to the believer at such a time, and it is my comfort now. I know that the Lord is glorified in my brother, whatever his end has been. May the Lord make this event a lasting blessing to me, especially in leading me to earnest prayer for my father!
December 31. We have had many expenses during the past year, but during no period of my life has the Lord so richly supplied me. Truly, it must be obvious to all that I serve a kind Master. It is by far best to act according to the will of the Lord concerning temporal things!
Arguments In Prayer For The Orphan Work
THE arguments which I plead with God are:
1. That I set about the work for the glory of God, i.e., that there might be a visible proof, by God supplying, in answer to prayer only, the necessities of the orphans, that He is the living God, and most willing, even in our day, to answer prayer: and that, therefore, He would be pleased to send supplies.
2. That God is the "Father of the fatherless," and that He, therefore, as their Father, would be pleased to provide. (Psalm lxviii.5.)
3. That I have received the children in the name of Jesus, and that, therefore, He, in these children, has been received, and is fed, and is clothed; and that, therefore, He would be pleased to consider this. (Mark ix.36,37.)
4. That the faith of many of the children of God has been strengthened by this work hitherto, and that, if God were to withhold the means for the future, those who are weak in faith would be staggered; whilst, by a continuance of means, their faith might still further be strengthened.
5. That many enemies would laugh, were the Lord to withhold supplies, and say, "Did we not foretell that this enthusiasm would come to nothing?"
6. That many of the children of God, who are uninstructed, or in a carnal state, would feel themselves justified to continue their alliance with the world in the work of God, and to go on as heretofore, in their unscriptural proceedings respecting similar instituions, so far as the obtaining of means is concerned, if He were not to help me.
7. That the Lord would remember that I am His child and that He would graciously pity me, and remember that I cannot provide for these children, and that therefore He would not allow this burden to lie upon me long without sending help.
8. That He would remember likewise my fellow labourers in the work, who trust in Him, but who would be tried were He to withhold supplies.
9. That He would remember that I should have to dismiss the children from under our Scriptural Institution to their former companions.
10. That He would show that those were mistaken who said that, at the first, supplies might be expected while the thing was new, but not afterwards.
11. That I should not know, were He to withhold means, what construction I should put upon all the many most remarkable answers to prayer which He has given me heretofore in connection with this work, and who most fully have shown to me that it is of God.
I HAD constantly cases brought before me which proved that one of the especial things which the children of God needed in our day was to have their faith strengthened.For instance: I might visit a brother who worked fourteen or even sixteen hours a day at his trade, the necessary result of which was that not only his body suffered, but his soul was lean, and he had no enjoyment in the things of God. Under such circumstances I might point out to him that he ought to work less, in order that his bodily health might not suffer, and that he might gather strength for his inner man by reading the word of God, or by meditation over it, and by prayer. The reply, however, I generally found to be something like this:
"But if I work less, I do not earn enough for the support of my family. Even now, whilst I work so much, I have scarcely enough. The wages are so low, that I must work hard in order to obtain what I need."
There was no trust in God. No real belief in the truth of that word:
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness:
and all these things shall be added unto you."
I might reply something like this:
"My dear brother, it is not your work which supports your family, but the Lord; and He who has fed you and your family when you could not work at all, on account of illness, would surely provide for you and yours if, for the sake of obtaining food for your inner man, you were to work only for so many hours a day as would allow you proper time for retirement. And is it not the case now, that you begin the work of the day after having had only a few hurried moments for prayer and when you leave off your work in the evening, and mean then to read a little of the word of God, are you not too much worn out in body and mind to enjoy it, and do you not often fall asleep whilst reading the Scriptures or whilst on your knees in prayer?"
The brother would allow it was so; he would allow that my advice was good but still I read in his countenance, even if he should not have actually said so,
"How should I get on if I were to carry out your advice?"
I longed, therefore, to have something to point the brother to, as a visible proof that our God and Father is the same faithful God as ever He was; as willing as ever to PROVE Himself to be the LIVING GOD, in our day as formerly, to all who put their trust in Him.--
Again, sometimes I found children of God tried in mind by the prospect of old age, when they might be unable to work any longer, and therefore were harassed by the fear of having to go into the poor-house. If in such a case I pointed out to them how their Heavenly Father has always helped those who put their trust in Him, they might not, perhaps, always say that times have changed; but yet it was evident enough that God was not looked upon by them as the LIVING God. My spirit was oft times bowed down by this, and I longed to see something before the children of God whereby they might see that He does not forsake, even in our day those who rely upon Him.--
Another class of persons were brethren in business, who suffered in their soul and brought guilt on their consciences, by carrying on their business almost in the same way as unconverted persons do. The competition in trade, the bad times, the over-peopled country, were given as reasons why, if the business were carried on simply according to the word of God it could not be expected to do well. Such a brother, perhaps, would express the wish that he might be differently situated; but very rarely did I see that there was a stand made for God, that there was the holy determination to trust in the living God, and to depend on Him, in order that a good conscience might be maintained. To this class likewise I desired to show, by a visible proof, that God is unchangeably the same.--
Then there was another class of persons, individuals who were in professions in which they could not continue with a good conscience, or persons who were in an unscriptural position with reference to spiritual things; but both classes feared, on account of the consequences, to give up the profession in which they could not abide with God, or to leave their position, lest they should be thrown out of employment. My spirit longed to be instrumental in giving them not only instances from the word of God of His willingness and ability to help all those who rely upon Him, but to show them by proofs that He is the same in our day. I well knew that the word of God ought to be enough, and it was, by grace, enough to me; but still, I considered that I ought to lend a helping hand to my brethren, if by any means, by this visible proof to the unchangeable faithfulness of the Lord I might strengthen their hands in God; for I remembered what a great blessing my own soul had received through the Lord's dealings with His servant, A. H. Francké, who, in dependence upon the living God alone, established an immense orphan house, which I had seen many times with my own eyes. I, therefore, judged myself bound to be the servant of the Church of God, in the particular point on which I had obtained mercy namely, in being able to take God by His word and to rely upon it. All these exercises of my soul, which resulted from the fact that so many believers, with whom I became acquainted were harassed and distressed in mind, or brought guilt on their consciences, on account of not trusting in the Lord; were used by God to awaken in my heart the desire of setting before the church at large, and before the world, a proof that He has not in the least changed and this seemed to me best done by the establishing of an orphan house. It needed to be something which could be seen, even by the natural eye. Now if I, a poor man simply by prayer and faith, obtained, without asking any individual, the means for establishing and carrying on an orphan house, there would be something which, with the Lord's blessing, might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God, besides being a testimony to the consciences of the unconverted of the reality of the things of God. This, then, was the primary reason for establishing the orphan house. I certainly did from my heart desire to be used by God to benefit the bodies of poor children bereaved of both parents, and seek, in other respects, with the help of God, to do them good for this life--
I also particularly longed to be used by God in getting the dear orphans trained up in the fear of God;-- but still, the first and primary object of the work was (and still is:) that God might be magnified by the fact that the orphans under my care are provided with all the need only by prayer and faith, without any one being asked by me or my fellow labourers, whereby it may be seen that God is FAITHFUL STILL, AND HEARS PRAYER STILL,
The three chief reasons for establishing an orphan house are:
1. That God may be glorified, should He be pleased to furnish me with the means, in its being seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in Him; and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened.
2. The spiritual welfare of fatherless and motherless children.
3. Their temporal welfare.
That to which my mind has been particularly directed is to establish an orphan house in which destitute fatherless and motherless children may be provided with food and raiment, and scriptural education. Concerning this intended orphan house I would say:
1. It is intended to be in connection with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, in so far as respects the reports, accounts, superintendence, and the principles on which it is conducted, so that, in one sense, it may be considered as a new object of the Institution, yet with this difference, that only those funds shall be applied to the orphan house which are expressly given for it. If, therefore, any believer should prefer to support either those objects which have been hitherto assisted by the funds of this Institution, or the intended orphan house, it need only be mentioned, in order that the money may be applied accordingly.
2. It will only be established if the Lord should provide both the means for it and suitable persons to conduct it. As to the means, I would make the following remarks:
the reason for proposing to enlarge the field is not because we have of late particularly abounded in means; we have been rather straitened. The many gracious answers, however, which the Lord had given concerning this Institution led brother C--- r and me to give ourselves to prayer, asking Him to supply us with means to carry on the work, as we consider it unscriptural to contract debts. During five days, we prayed several times, both unitedly and separately. After that time, the Lord began to answer our prayers, so that, within a few days, about 50l. was given to us. I would further say that the very gracious and tender dealings of God with me, in having supplied, in answer to prayer, for the last five years, my own temporal wants without any certain income, so that money, provisions, and clothes have been sent to me at times when I was greatly straitened, and that not only in small but large quantities and not merely from individuals living in the same place with me, but at a considerable distance; and that not merely from intimate friends, but from individuals whom I have never seen: all this, I say, has often led me to think, even as long as four years ago, that the Lord has not given me this simple reliance on Him merely for myself, but also for others. Often, when I saw poor neglected children running about the streets at Teignmouth, I said to myself:
"May it not be the will of God that I should establish schools for these children, asking Him to give me the means?"
However, it remained only a thought in my mind for two or three years. About two years and six months since I was particularly stirred up afresh to do something for destitute children, by seeing so many of them begging in the streets of Bristol, and coming to our door. It was not, then, left undone on account of want of trust in the Lord, but through an abundance of other things calling for all the time and strength of my brother Craik and myself; for the Lord had both given faith, and had also shown by the following instance, in addition to very many others, both what He can and what He will do. One morning, while sitting in my room, I thought about the distress of certain brethren, and said thus to myself:
"Oh, that it might please the Lord to give me the means to help these poor brethren!"
In about an hour afterwards I had 601. sent as a present for myself from a brother whom up to this day I have never seen, and who was then, and is still, residing several thousand miles from this. Should not such an experience, together with promises like that one in John xiv.13,14, encourage us to ask with all boldness, for ourselves and others, both temporal and spiritual blessings? The Lord, for I cannot but think it was He, again and again brought the thought about these poor children to my mind, till at last it ended in the establishment of "The Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad"; since the establishment of which, I have had it in a similar way brought to my mind, first about fourteen months ago, and repeatedly since, but especially during these last weeks, to establish an orphan house. My frequent prayer of late has been, that if it be of God, He would let it come to pass; if not, that He would take from me all thoughts about it.
The latter has not been the case, but I have been led more and more to think that the matter may be of Him. Now, if so, He can influence His people in any part of the world (for I do not look to Bristol, nor even to England, but to the living God, whose is the gold and the silver), to intrust me and brother C---r, whom the Lord has made willing to help me in this work with the means. Till we have them, we can do nothing in the way of renting a house, furnishing it, etc. Yet, when once as much as is needed for this has been sent us, as also proper persons to engage in the work, we do not think it needful to wait till we have the orphan house endowed, or a number of yearly subscribers for it; but we trust to be enabled by the Lord, who has taught us to ask for our daily bread, to look to Him for the supply of the daily wants of those children whom He may be pleased to put under our care. Any donations will be received at my house. Should any believers have tables, chairs, bedsteads, bedding, earthenware, or any kind of household furniture to spare, for the furnishing of the house; or remnants, or pieces of calico, linen, flannel, cloth, or any materials useful for wearing apparel; or clothes already worn, they will be thankfully received.
Respecting the persons who are needed for carrying on the work, a matter of no less importance than the procuring of funds, I would observe that we look for them to God himself, as well as for the funds; and that all who may be engaged as masters, matrons, and assistants, according to the smallness or largeness of the Institution; must be known to us as true believers; and moreover, as far as we may be able to judge, must likewise be qualified for the work.
3. At present nothing can be said as to the time when the operations are likely to commence; nor whether the Institution will embrace children of both sexes, or be restricted either to boys or girls exclusively; nor of what age they will be received, and how long they may continue in it; for though we have thought about these things, yet we would rather be guided in these particulars by the amount of the means which the Lord may put into our hands, and by the number of the individuals whom He may provide for conducting the Institution. Should the Lord condescend to use us as instruments, a short printed statement will be issued as soon as something more definite can be said.
4. It has appeared well to us to receive only such destitute children as have been bereaved of both parents.
5. The children are intended, if girls, to be brought up for service; if boys, for a trade; and therefore they will be employed, according to their ability and bodily strength in useful occupations, and thus help to maintain themselves; besides this, they are intended to receive a plain education; but the chief and the special end of the Institution will be to seek, with God's blessing, to bring them to the knowledge of Jesus Christ by instructing them in the Scriptures.
FURTHER ACCOUNT RESPECTING THE ORPHAN HOUSE, ETC
When, of late, the thoughts of establishing an orphan house, in dependence upon the Lord, revived in my mind, during the first two weeks I only prayed that if it were of the Lord He would bring it about; but if not, that He graciously would be pleased to take all thoughts about it out of my mind. My uncertainty about knowing the Lord's mind did not arise from questioning whether it would be pleasing in His sight that there should be an abode and scriptural education provided for destitute fatherless and motherless children; but whether it were His will that I should be the instrument of setting such an object on foot, as my hands were already more than filled. My comfort, however, was, that, if it were His will, He would provide not merely the means, but also suitable individuals to take care of the children, so that my part of the work would take only such a portion of my time as, considering the importance of the matter, I might give, notwithstanding my many other engagements. The whole of those two weeks I never asked the Lord for money or for persons to engage in the work. On December 5th, however, the subject of my prayer all at once became different. I was reading Psalm Ixxxi., and was particularly struck, more than at any time before, with verse 10:
"Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it."
I thought a few moments about these words, and then was led to apply them to the case of the orphan house. It struck me that I had never asked the Lord for anything concerning it, except to know His will respecting its being established or not; and I then fell on my knees, opened my mouth wide, asking him for much. I asked in submission to His will, and without fixing a time when He should answer my petition. I prayed that He would give me a house, i.e., either as a loan, or that someone might be led to pay the rent for one, or that one might be given permanently for this object; further, I asked Him for £1000; and likewise for suitable individuals to take care of the children. Besides this, I have been since led to ask the Lord to put into the hearts of His people to send me articles of furniture for the house, and for clothes for the children. When I was asking the petition I was fully aware what I was doing, i.e., that I was asking for something which I had no natural prospect of obtaining from the brethren whom I know, but which was not too much for the Lord to grant.
Please note this institution was running only during his lifetime giving away books, etc.
The Scriptural Knowledge Institution For Home And Abroad
I. THE PRINCIPLES OF THE INSTITUTION.
1. WE consider every believer bound, in one way or another, to help the cause of Christ, and we have scriptural warrant for expecting the Lord's blessing upon our word of faith and labour of love: and although, according to Matt. xiii.24-43, 2 Tim. iii. 1-13, and many other passages, the world will not be converted before the coming of our Lord Jesus, still, while He tarries, all scriptural means ought to be employed for the ingathering of the elect of God.
2. The Lord helping us, we do not mean to seek the patronage of the world; i.e., we never intend to ask unconverted persons of rank or wealth to countenance the Institution, because this, we consider, would be dishonourable to the Lord. In the name of our God we set up our banners, Ps. xx.5; He alone shall be our Patron, and if He helps us we shall prosper, and if He is not on our side, we shall not succeed.
3. We do not mean to ask unbelievers for money (2 Cor. vi.14-18); though we do not feel ourselves warranted to refuse their contributions, if they, of their own accord should offer them. (Acts xxviii. 2-10.)
4. We reject altogether the help of unbelievers in managing or carrying on the affairs of the Institution. (2 Cor. vi.14-18.)
5. We intend never to enlarge the field of labour by contracting debts (Rom. xiii.8), and afterwards appealing to the church of God for help, because this we consider to be opposed both to the letter and the spirit of the New Testament; but in secret prayer, God helping us, we shall carry the wants of the Institution to the Lord, and act according to the means that God shall give.
6. We do not mean to reckon the success of the Institution by the amount of money given, or the number of Bibles distributed, etc., but by the Lord's blessing upon the work (Zech. iv.6); and we expect this, in the proportion in which He shall help us to wait upon Him in prayer.
7. While we would avoid aiming after needless singularity, we desire to go on simply according to Scripture, without compromising the truth; at the same time thankfully receiving any instruction which experienced believers, after prayer, upon scriptural ground, may have to give us concerning the Institution.
What Did George Muller Think About the Bible?
by Steve Burchett
George Muller loved orphans. By the end of his life in the late 1800’s, he had housed over 10,000 in Bristol, England. Remarkably, throughout his ministry he made needs known only to God. Muller’s ultimate desire for destitute boys and girls was not just to provide shelter and food, though the children were cared for very well. When sharing his dreams for ministry to orphans, Muller said this:
The chief and special end of the Institution will be to seek, with God’s blessing, to bring the dear children to the knowledge of Jesus Christ by instructing them in the Scriptures.
Muller longed for the salvation of the orphans, and he made the Bible the center of their schooling to achieve this goal. This is not surprising when considering how Muller was brought to faith in Christ. At the age of twenty, he was invited to a meeting where a chapter of the Bible and a printed sermon were read. He kept attending, and later wrote the following:
It pleased God to teach me something of the meaning of that precious truth: ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ I understood something of the reason why the Lord Jesus died on the cross . . . The individual who desires to have his sins forgiven must seek it through the blood of Jesus.
For the rest of his life, George Muller was a man who treasured Scripture. This was evident in multiple ways:
Muller preached Scripture.
For the majority of his ministry in Bristol, he co-pastored two churches with his friend Henry Craik. They both were known for preaching thoroughly biblical messages. One eyewitness said this about Muller: “He strongly advocates and practises expository preaching. Instead of a solitary text detached from its context, he selects a passage…which he goes over consecutively clause by clause.”
Muller’s ministry practices were rooted in Scripture.
He once said, “God does expect us to be obedient children, and will have us practice what He has taught us.” The establishment of the orphanage came in part because of Muller’s meditation on this portion of Psalm 81:10: “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”
Three ladies once challenged Muller’s view of baptism. He studied the relevant passages and changed his position.
Muller distributed Scripture.
In 1834, Muller founded (along with Craik) the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, with the threefold aim of starting schools where Scripture was taught, distributing Bibles, and supporting missionaries. By 1840, over 6,000 Bibles had been circulated. In 1880, 100,000 Bibles were dispersed around the world in multiple languages. Millions of other Bible-related tracts were also published.
Muller encouraged others with Scripture.
Caring for so many orphans was sometimes trying for both his family and fellow workers, but Muller would often quote Matthew 6:31 and 33: “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’. . . But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
When his first wife, Mary, was dying, he read Psalm 84:11 to her and said, “My darling we have both received grace, and we shall therefore receive glory; and as, by God’s grace, we walk uprightly, nothing that is good for us will He withhold from us.” He preached Psalm 119:68 at her funeral.
Muller was strengthened by Scripture.
He read through the entire Bible four times a year. He said he once learned that “the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.” How? He understood that after getting ready in the morning, “The most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditate on it.”
Muller not only started each day with Scripture, but he also rested in God’s truth during trials. For example, as he watched Mary die, Muller was comforted by Psalm 119:75: “I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” When his daughter Lydia died (1890), and also his second wife, Susannah (1894), Muller clung to Romans 8:28.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
 Facts and quotes are taken from Roger Steer, George Muller: Delighted in God (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 2001), or George Muller,Valuable Selections from the Writings of George Muller (Hannibal, MO: Granted Ministries Press, 2009).
Reprinted by permission
Copyright © 2010 Steve Burchett
Christian Communicators Worldwide, Inc.
That which I have found most beneﬁcial in my experience for the last ﬁfty-one years in the public ministry of the Word, is, expounding the Scriptures, and especially the going now and then through a whole gospel or epistle. This may be done in a two-fold way, either by entering minutely into the bearing of every point occurring in the portion, or by giving the general outlines, and thus leading the hearers to see the meaning and connection of the whole.
1. The hearers are thus, with God’s blessing, led to the Scriptures. They ﬁnd, as it were, a practical use of them in the public meetings. This induces them to bring their bibles, and I have observed that those who at ﬁrst did not bring them, have afterwards been induced to do so: so that in a short time few, of the believers at least, were in the habit of coming without them. This is no small matter; for every thing, which in our day will lead believers to value the Scriptures, is of importance.
2. The expounding of the Scriptures is in general more beneﬁcial to the hearers than if, on a single verse, or half a verse, or two or three words of a verse some remarks are made, so that the portion of Scripture is scarcely anything but a motto for the subject; for few have grace to meditate much over the Word, and thus exposition may not merely be the means of opening up to them the Scriptures, but may also create in them a desire to meditate for themselves.
3. The expounding of the Scriptures leaves to the hearers a connecting link, so that the reading over again the portion of the Word, which has been expounded, brings to their remembrance what has been said; and thus, with God’s blessing, leaves a more lasting impression on their minds. This is particularly of importance as it regards the illiterate, who sometimes have neither much strength of memory nor capacity of comprehension.
4. The expounding of large portions of the Word, as the whole of a gospel or an epistle, besides leading the hearer to see the connection of the whole, has also this particular beneﬁt for the teacher, that it leads him, with God’s blessing, to the consideration of portions of the Word, which otherwise he might not have considered, and keeps him from speaking too much on favourite subjects, and leaning too much to particular parts of truth, which tendency must surely sooner or later injure both himself and his hearers.- Expounding the word of God brings little honour to the preacher from the unenlightened or careless hearer, but it tends much to the beneﬁt of the hearers in general.
So, my beloved younger brethren and sisters in Christ at the very outset of your spiritual life, say boldly, “I will be, by the grace of God, an out-and-out Christian, living for God. I will, by His grace, seek to bear fruit to His glory and honour. I will, by His grace, seek to have done with this sinful world. I will, by His grace, strive so to live, that a line of demarcation shall be clearly seen between me and the world, and that the people of the world shall seek to have no intercourse with me, seeing that I do not belong to them, but that I belong to the kingdom of heaven.”
That is what we have to aim after; and what would be the result? Not only should we be holy men and women, but also happy men and women, in whom God delights; and we should also be useful men and women. The world ought to say of each of us, “If ever there was a Christian, it is surely that man or that woman.” “Surely that man or woman has been with Jesus.” If the world does not say that of us, there is something wanting. We ought to be ashamed, if any one is able to live three or four days in the house with us, without finding out that we are not of the world, but are born again.
And that is not the only use of thus bearing testimony; it will also be very helpful to our brethren in the Lord.
Let me insist particularly, my beloved brethren and sisters, but especially you, my younger brethren and sisters, on this point—that of being out-and-out for God in the very outset. We must be opposed to the world, and the flesh, and entirely for Christ. This is the purpose for which we are left in the world. I do not say we are to give up our ordinary business. I have seen much of this; there is often too much readiness in giving up the earthly business, and it is often done hastily. I have found that men may greatly glorify God in their earthly business, and I do not say that they are to forsake that business in order to become evangelists, missionaries. district visitors, tract distributors, or the like. We may serve and honour Him well whilst occupied with the business of this life. If God does call us, by all means go at once; but do not go unless He calls. We require a special call from God, and even when we think we have received it, let us make it a matter of consideration. Let us prayerfully, quietly, and calmly look to God before taking such a step.
But, again, I say, if there be anything, whatever it may be, and however dear it may be, which is contrary to the divine will, let us give it up at once, and aim after being out-and-out, and decided for God in every way. The result will be increased happiness, joy, and holiness; and our usefulness will increase more and more.
In connection with this, I would especially state that, though we all ought to aim after conformity to the mind of Christ, yet we all more or less fail. It is deeply important to mark, that all of us are liable to sin, and do sin. If any man come to me, and say, “I do not sin,” I would say, “My brother, you are mistaken; perhaps you do not know what sin is, or you do not know your own state.” All of us, though not living in sin, are yet liable to sin; if not in acts, yet in words; or if not even in words, yet in feelings or desires. We are all apt to fall short of what we might be and of what we ought to be. What then? Well, we must make confession, and come afresh to the blood of Jesus Christ, and have these sins washed away. - George Muller
January 7, 1838. My general health seems to have improved, but this is the ninth's Lord's day that I have been unable to minister in the Word. My affliction causes me to be very irritable.
January 15. My headache has become less severe since yesterday afternoon. But I am still far from being well. God is purifying me for His blessed service, and I will soon be restored to the work. Also, He has restored a fervency of spirit which I have now enjoyed for the past three days. He has drawn my soul into real communion with Himself and into a holy desire to be more conformed to His dear Son.
When God gives a spirit of prayer, it is easy to pray! I spent about three hours in prayer over Psalms 64 and 65. In reference to that precious word, "O thou that hearest prayer" (Psa. 65:2), I asked the Lord the following petitions and entreated Him to record them in heaven and to answer them: That He would give me grace to glorify Him by a submissive and patient spirit under my affliction.
That the work of conversion through Brother Craik and myself might not cease but go on as much now as when we first came to Bristol, and even more abundantly than then.
That He would give more spiritual prosperity to the church under our care than we have as yet enjoyed.
That His rich blessing would rest on this little work so that many may be converted through it and many benefited by it.
That He would bring salvation to all the children under our care.
That He would supply the means to carry on these institutions and to enlarge them.
I believe God has heard my prayers. He will make it manifest in His own good time that He has heard me. I have recorded my petitions that when God has answered them, His name will be glorified.
January 16. How very good is the Lord! Fervency of spirit, through His grace, is continued to me, although this morning, if not for the help of God, I would have lost it again. The weather has been very cold for several days, but today I felt it more, due to the weakness of my body.
I arose from my knees and stirred the fire, but I still felt very cold. I moved to another part of the room but felt even colder. At last, having prayed for some time, I decided to walk to help my circulation.
I entreated the Lord that this circumstance might not rob me of the precious communion I have had with Him the last three days-for this was the object at which Satan aimed. I also confessed my sin of irritability on account of the cold and sought to have my conscience cleansed through the blood of Jesus. He had mercy on me, and my peace was restored. When I returned, I sought the Lord again in prayer and had uninterrupted communion with Him.
July 12. The funds are now reduced to about twenty pounds. But thanks to the Lord, my faith is stronger than it was when we had a larger sum on hand. God has never at any time, from the beginning of the work, allowed me to distrust Him. Nevertheless, real faith is manifested by prayer. Therefore, I prayed with the headmaster of the Boy's Orphan House. Besides my wife and brother Craik, he is the only person I speak to about our financial status.
While we were praying, an orphan child from Frome was brought to us. Some believers sent five pounds with the child. Thus we received a timely answer to our need. We have given permission for seven children to come in and plan to allow five more. Although our funds are low, we trust that God will meet our needs.
July 17 and 18. These two days we have had two special prayer meetings, from six to nine in the evening, to publicly commend the Boy's Orphan House to the Lord. Our funds are now very low. About twenty pounds remain, and in a few days thirty pounds, at least, will be needed. But I purposely avoided saying anything about our present needs and only praised God and spoke about the abundance with which our gracious Father, "the Father of the fatherless," has supplied us. The hand of God will be clearly seen when He sends help.
July 22. I walked through our little garden, meditating on Heb. 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever." I meditated on His unchangeable love, power, and wisdom while I prayed about my present spiritual and temporal circumstances.
Suddenly, the present need of the Orphan Houses was brought to my mind. I said to myself, "Jesus in His love and power has supplied me with what I have needed for the orphans. In the same unchangeable love and power, He will provide me with what I need for the future." Joy flooded my soul when I realized the unchangeableness of our mighty Lord. About one minute later, a letter arrived with twenty pounds enclosed.
August 29. Sixteen believers were baptized. Among those who were baptized was a brother eighty-four years old and another over seventy. For the latter, his believing wife had prayed thirty-eight years. At last the Lord answered her prayers for his conversion.
August 31. I have been waiting on the Lord for finances because the expense reports from the Girl's Orphan House have arrived, and there is no money available to pay for housekeeping. But the Lord has not yet sent help. When the matron called today for money, one of the laborers gave her two pounds of his own.
September 1. The Lord in His wisdom and love has not yet sent help. Where it comes from is not my concern. But I believe God will, in due time, send help. His hour is not yet come. This is the most trying time that I have had in the ministry concerning finances. But I know that I will yet praise the Lord for His help.
September 5. Our hour of trial continues. The Lord mercifully has given enough to supply our daily necessities. But He gives by the day now, and almost by the hour, as we need it. Nothing came in yesterday. I sought the Lord again and again, both yesterday and today, and it seems that He is saying, "My hour is not yet come."
I have faith in God. I believe that He will surely send help. Many pounds are needed within a few days, and there is not a penny in hand. This morning two pounds were given for the present needs by one of the laborers in the work.
Evening. The Lord sent help to encourage me to continue to wait on Him and to trust in Him. As I was praying this afternoon, I felt fully assured that the Lord would send help. I praised Him before I saw the answer and asked Him to encourage our hearts, especially that He would not allow my faith to fail.
A few minutes after I had prayed, the headmaster brought more than four pounds which had come in by several small donations. Tomorrow the account books will be brought from the Infant Orphan House, and money must be advanced for housekeeping. I thought for a moment it might be a good idea to keep three pounds of this money for that purpose. But it occurred to me immediately, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:34). The Lord can provide by tomorrow much more than I need; and I, therefore, sent three pounds to one of the sisters whose quarterly salary was due. The remainder went to the Boy's Orphan House for housekeeping. Thus I am still penniless. My hope is in God, and He will provide.
September 6. The account books were brought from the Infant Orphan House, and the matron asked when money would be advanced for housekeeping. I said, "Tomorrow," although I did not have a single penny in hand. About an hour later, the headmaster sent me a note saying that he had received one pound this morning and that last evening another brother sent twenty-nine pounds of salt, forty-four dozen onions, and twenty-six pounds of grain.
September 7. The time had come to send money to the Infant Orphan House, but the Lord had not sent any more. I gave the pound which had come in yesterday and two shillings and two pence. which had been put into the box in my house, trusting the good Lord to send in more.
September 8. My gracious Lord has not sent me help yet. Yesterday and today I have been pleading with God, giving reasons why He would be pleased to send help. The arguments which I used are: I began the work for the glory of God that there might be visible proof of God supplying, in answer to prayer only, the necessities of the orphans. He is the living God and eager to answer prayer.
God is the "Father of the fatherless," and as their Father, He should be pleased to provide. (See Psa. 68:5.)
I have received the children in the name of Jesus. Therefore, He, in these children, has been received, fed, and clothed. (See Mark 9:36-37.)
The faith of many of the children of God has been strengthened by this work. If God withheld the means for the future, those who are weak in faith would be discouraged. If the ministry was continued, their faith might still further be strengthened.
Many enemies would laugh if the Lord withheld supplies and say, 'We knew that this enthusiasm would come to nothing."
Many of the children of God, who are uninstructed or in a carnal state, would feel Justified to continue their alliance with the world in their ministries. They would continue in their unscriptural proceedings to raise money if He did not help me.
God knows that I cannot provide for these children in my own strength. Therefore, He would not allow this burden to lie on me long without sending help. My fellow-laborers in the ministry also trust in Him.
I would have to dismiss the children from under our scriptural instruction to their former companions if He does not help me.
He could prove wrong those who said, "In the beginning supplies might be expected while the ministry is new, but after a while, people will lose interest and stop supporting it."
If He did not provide, how could I explain the many remarkable answers to prayer which He had given to me previously which have shown me that this work is of God?
In some small measure I now understand the meaning of that word, "how long," which frequently occurs in the prayers of the Psalms. But even now, by the grace of God, my eyes are on Him only, and I believe that He will send help.
September 10. Monday morning. No money came in either Saturday or yesterday. The matter has now become a solemn crisis. We called the brothers and sisters together for prayer, and I explained our situation. Despite this trial of faith, I still believe God will help us. Nothing should be purchased that we cannot pay for, and the children should never lack nourishing food and warm clothing. We discussed what unnecessary possessions could be sold.
A few hours later, nine six pence were anonymously put into the box at Gideon Chapel. This money seemed like a promise that God would have compassion and send more. About ten o'clock, while I was again in prayer for help, a sister gave two sovereigns to my wife for the orphans. She felt she had already delayed too long. A few minutes later, she gave me two sovereigns more. She did all this without knowing anything about our need. Thus the Lord most mercifully has sent us a little help and greatly encouraged my faith.
September 12. The trial still continues. Only nine shillings came in today, given by one of the laborers. In the midst of this great trial of faith, the Lord mercifully keeps me in great peace. He also allows me to see that our labor is not in vain. Yesterday one of the orphans died who was only about nine years old. She had come to know Jesus several months before her death.
September 13. No help has come yet. This morning I told the brothers and sisters about the state of the funds. We prayed together and had a very happy meeting. One of the sisters told me not to trouble myself about her salary because she did not want any for a year.
September 14. I met again with the brothers and sisters for prayer because the Lord has not sent help. After prayer one of the laborers gave me all the money he had, sixteen shillings, saying that it would not be right to pray if he did not give what he had.
Up to this day, the matrons of the three houses had been in the habit of paying the bakers and the milkman weekly. Sometimes we paid the butcher and grocer this way, too. But now, since the Lord provides for us by the day, we consider it wrong to go on any longer in this way, as the week's payment might come due, and we would have no money to meet it.
We want to act according to the commandment of the Lord, "Owe no man anything" (Rom. 13:8). Since the Lord gives us our supplies daily, we purpose to pay for every article when it is purchased. We will never buy anything unless we can pay for it at once, however much it may seem to be needed.
September 15. We met again this morning for prayer. God comforts our hearts, and we are looking for His help. Enough provisions remain for today and tomorrow, but there is no money on hand to buy bread. During the day enough money came in, and we were able to buy the usual quantity of bread and have some money left. May God be praised, who gave us grace to decide not to buy anything for which we cannot pay at once! We thankfully took this money out of our Father's hands as proof that He still cares for us. In His own time, He will send us larger sums.
by Jim Elliff
The following article is an introduction written by Jim Elliff for the book Autobiography of George Muller, or, A Million and a Half in Answer to Prayer by George Muller
Hardcover | 736 pages | Westminster Literature Resources
On November 8, 1840, a slender, 35 year old man with wiry black hair held a diamond ring in his hand. His wife, a Brethren woman, would certainly not have worn it—much too audacious for a woman of God of her day. No, it was to be sold. Like so many things he would be given during his lifetime, this item was sent to him in order to produce income for the orphans under his care.
With sincere and grateful emotions, Muller turned to scratch two Hebrew words on the windowpane with this diamond—Jehovah Jireh.
Those words, meaning, “the Lord Who Provides,” are the most representative words we could use to explain this man of faith, George Muller. The Lord provided all that he needed from the start of his work until he died in 1898, without asking anyone for help but God alone. He humbly claimed that the Lord had answered 50,000 requests, 30,000 of those in the same hour or day in which they were asked. God would send Muller over £75,000,000 in current equivalency.
Muller, on the one hand, was a churchman, actually shepherding a church in Bristol, England, of about 1200 people. For several years he oversaw two churches, alongside his friend and co-laborer, Henry Craik. During his early days, he started the The Scriptural Knowledge Institute for Home and Abroad (SKI), through which he established day schools mostly on the mainland of Europe. In his lifetime he schooled over 123,000 students. He distributed free published materials by the millions, and supported numerous missionaries through SKI as well, among whom were Hudson Taylor and the first missionaries of the China Inland Mission. Most notable among his activities was the orphanage under his care. In his lifetime he built five capacious buildings to house 2000 orphans at a time. Before he died, 10,024 orphans had been cared for. Then, from age 70-87, he traveled as an itinerant missionary. Most of these trips were a year in duration; one was two years. He went to 42 countries and traveled the equivalent in mileage to eight times around the globe as an elderly man, speaking 5000 to 6000 times outside of Britain.
Surely a man doing all that I have mentioned must have had wealthy supporters in place committed to supplying the money necessary for the enterprises he envisioned. Surely the organizational mechanism for collecting the millions needed for such activities must have been well staffed and trained in the art of raising funds. No, not at all. Everything was accomplished by asking God alone.
Muller’s view of faith was simple, almost childlike. He believed that everything he did was to be guided by Scripture. He was no mystic, refusing to be lead by impressions or even to take Scripture out of context. He believed that living by impressions would lead Christians into much error. Rather, as a man of confidence in the Bible, he found out what God had promised and rested on it. Faith, to Muller, was finding out what God said or what he permitted, and doggedly hanging on to the promises even when circumstances were screaming otherwise.
Muller believed that God did not intend for him to get into debt of any kind. Nor did he solicit for money. This is almost inconceivable from our modern perspective, but I can personally vouch that God can and will supply this way even today. He never once wrote a letter to ask people to give to him or to the ministries under his charge, never approached businessman or foundations for funds, never appealed to churches to support the work. All was done in answer to prayer. He would refuse to disclose the present state of the funds, even when asked, because he believed it might be seen as a subtle appeal for money. He would tell of the activity of God in supplying what was needed in retrospect, as a way of honoring God. And he would not borrow from one fund to supply the other, when monies were designated for a particular aspect of his work. His was a life of faith in the strictest meaning of that word.
I believe the driving impetus for Muller’s faith is found in his explanation for why the orphanage was started. Muller’s meditation on the difficulties of Christians with financial problems, was used by God, as he stated . . .
. . . to awaken in my heart the desire of setting before the church at large, and before the world, a proof that He has not in the least changed; and this seemed to me best done by the establishing of an orphan house. It needed to be something which could be seen, even by the natural eye. Now, if I, a poor man, simply by prayer and faith, obtained, without asking any individual, the means for establishing and carrying on an orphan house, there would be something which, with the Lord’s blessing, might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God, besides being a testimony to the consciences of the unconverted of the reality of the things of God.
This, then, was the primary reason for establishing the orphan house. I certainly did from my heart desire to be used by God to benefit the bodies of poor children, bereaved of both parents, and seek in other respects, with the help of God, to do them good for this life. I also particularly longed to be used by God in getting the dear orphans trained up in the fear of God; but still, the first and primary object of the work was, and still is, that God might be magnified by the fact that the orphans under my care are provided with all they need, only by prayer and faith, without any one being asked by me or my fellow-laborers, whereby it may be seen that God is FAITHFUL STILL, and HEARS PRAYER STILL.
Above all other things, Muller wished to be a living demonstration that God is alive and answers prayer just as he said he would in the Bible. A friend of mine is fond of saying, “God delights to vindicate the confidences of his children,” as a way of explaining Muller’s view. Consider, he says, the hypothetical situation of your child meeting another child down the street. Your daughter returns saying, “Daddy, I met a little girl and she was so poor that she didn’t even have a coat. But I told her, ‘That’s all right, my daddy will get you one.’” What do you suppose you would do about that? You would buy her one. Why? It’s your glory to do so. You love to vindicate the confidences of your children. This is the way Muller approached God. He knew what few have understood—God delights to show Himself strong to those whose greatest aspiration is to demonstrate to the world that God is who He says He is.
I’m not sure how I first came across the life of Muller, but I’m eternally thankful that it happened. My father spoke of Muller from time to time. He had learned of him from a friend of our family who had made a sizable impression on us all, Dr. E. F. Halleck of Norman, Oklahoma. This gracious pastor/mentor had pointed many to his three great emphases—Bible reading and prayer, and the life of faith emerging from them. These life-messages had become real to him through Muller, and “Preacher Halleck” therefore often talked of Muller in his messages. I “caught” something of Muller’s life of faith interacting with this well-loved older pastor.
When I read my first book on Muller, I knew instantly that His life was going to change mine. And it has. I can almost relive now the initial emotions I experienced as I read outside of my apartment, sitting in the sun, during those University days. Those principles that guided his life—his entire dependence on God for everything, the avoidance of debt, the regulating of all things by Scripture, the refusal to make his needs known or to solicit for money, his passion for the world, the simplicity of his life, etc.—were imprinted on me. I was ready for them; they described the way I wanted to live before the face of God and man. For the rest of my life, I’ve attempted to live by those divinely taught commands and principles, especially since beginning the ministry I now direct.
I believe this life of Muller, perhaps the most definitive compilation of his journals outside of the original Narratives, will have a similar impact on many of you. You will not, perhaps, apply faith to the same calling as Muller, but you must find that way you are to live the life of trust. People do not care so much about what you can do for God, but they desperately need to see what God will do for you.
Addendum: When you are in Bristol, you may still visit the Muller orphan homes, now a college. These impressive structures, all built by faith, speak volumes about God’s faithfulness. The library has some photos of the Muller work taken in the late 1800s if you wish to ask the librarian for them, but do not be surprised that you may know more than they about the history of Muller. In 1948 the children were moved out of the institutional setting of the original homes and into family-like settings in another part of the city. The work still goes on through a variety of ministries as a testimony to the faithfulness of God.
A small but intriguing museum of Muller artifacts has been established for those interested at the offices of the Muller Foundation. It is well worth the time to visit. Julian Marsh, chief executive of the work, is a gracious host. He and others will kindly answer questions about Muller’s life and ministry, as well as the ongoing enterprise. It is helpful to make an appointment prior to your visit. One may also see the Victorian gravesite of Muller by receiving instructions from the home office. The current address and web site of the Muller work is as follows:
The George Muller Foundation
7 Cotham Park
Bristol, England BS6 6DA
Telephone: 0117 924 5001
Web site: www.mullers.org
This article is reprinted by permission
Copyright © 2000 Jim Elliff