My bedtime tradition is to read to my children and I wanted to find a series of books that would be enjoyable for them to listen to, as well as edifying. This series by Janet and Geoff Benge is both.
The story of George Muller was one of the first books I read to my children from the series and we quickly realized we had much to learn about faith.
Converted by God
There is a difference between believing things about God and putting one’s faith in God. We can know a lot about God, His character, His Word, and His promises, but it is empty knowledge until what we know translates into how we live.
Faith is living out in real action what we believe about God. George Muller had faith in God and he saw God do the impossible.
George Muller was born in Kroppenstaedt, Prussia in 1805. He spent the first years of his life as a thief and a liar, not out of necessity but simply because he enjoyed the thrill. At the request of his father, George enrolled in Germany’s Halle University as a divinity student on track to become a Lutheran pastor.
Lutheran pastor’s were well paid and respected and George Muller saw a church congregation as easy prey for his manipulative tactics.
One night George attended a small Bible meeting with a friend and the Holy Spirit began to work on his heart. After returning to the Bible meeting several times, he knelt by his bed and asked God to forgive him of his sins through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This transformation was immediately evident in George’s life. He gave up his old ways of partying, drinking, gambling, and cheating people out of money.
The man who lived his whole life in selfish pursuits now loved God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind, and loved others more than himself (Luke 10:27).
On mission for God
Shortly after George became a Christian he decided to be a missionary. He married a woman named Mary Groves, and the couple eventually found themselves in Bristol, England.
One day as George was walking through the city he came upon a young beggar girl, who was about five years old. She was carrying her younger brother on her back.
She asked George for a shilling. As he spoke with her he discovered her mother had died of cholera and her father had never returned from the mines. She and her brother were living on the streets.
George gave her a shilling, but as she walked away, she took more than George’s money with her–she took his heart. From that moment George belonged to the orphans living on the streets of Bristol and there were many of them.
Due to the close quarters of the city and the poor sanitation, diseases spread quickly and epidemics were common. This left many children without either parent or anyone else to care for them.
The practical Gospel
George and his wife, Mary, began a “Breakfast Club” out of their home where orphaned children could get a hot meal and hear of the love of Jesus.
This “Breakfast Club” grew to be five large houses which, over the years, were called “home” by over ten thousand orphans. The “Muller Houses” were the first orphanages in Bristol.
The Church has always been full of people who believe God can do all He says in His Word, but only a few who believe God will do all He says in His Word. How often do we come before the throne of God in doubt?
Our doubt makes a horrible accusation against the character of God. It says He is unconcerned about our desires. Even while we are entreating upon His help, we are already contriving our own solutions in our own strength.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. – James 1:5 (ESV)
George Muller believed God. He and his wife ran an orphanage that provided for the needs of thousands of children without ever asking a man or woman for a shilling. They never held a fundraiser, a capital campaign, or took out a loan.
The only one they asked anything of was God. They believed God would provide and God did. Time and time again, money or physical items were donated to the orphanage as a direct answer to prayer. Often it was the exact amount of money or the exact item specifically prayed for.
God’s provision illustrated
One story in particular stood out to me. One morning George was in his office meeting with his assistant when he was interrupted by a matron of one of the orphan houses.
She informed him the children were at the table ready for breakfast but there wasn’t anything to eat. George got up to head to the dining hall.
But first he grabbed the eight year old daughter of a friend who was visiting the orphanage and told her they were “going to see what God would do.”
When they arrived at the dining hall, the little girl was shocked to see the children standing at tables set with empty plates and cups. George prayed a simple prayer with the children,
Dear God, we thank you for what you are going to give us to eat. Amen.
The children took their seats. Moments later, there was a knock at the door. A baker had arrived with trays of beautiful bread claiming he hadn’t been able to sleep the night before and was compelled to bake bread for the orphanage.
God had been working the night before to answer the prayer George would pray that morning. After the bread had been given to the children there was another knock at the door.
A milkman had a broken wheel on his cart, which was parked right outside the orphanage. In order to fix the cart he needed to lighten the heavy load of milk it was carrying.
He asked if the orphanage could use the milk free of charge. There was enough milk for every child and then some. Later, the friends of George Muller’s, whose eight year old daughter had witnessed God’s direct answer to prayer told him their little girl never finished a prayer without adding, “Like you do for George Muller.”
Can God provide?
When we read a story like the one above we are tempted to see it as an exception or out of the ordinary. George Muller’s entire life was marked by stories like this one (Matthew 6:25-33).
George knew what God had told him to do–seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness first. George knew what God had promised He would do, provide for all of George’s needs.
George simply believed God wouldn’t fail on a promise. To us, it may appear George Muller had been given a special privilege, being allowed to live every day in the miraculous provision of God, but that is not how George Muller saw it.
He didn’t see God’s faithfulness as out of the ordinary, but as more reliable than the rising and setting of the sun. George Muller loved God and loved the Word of God.
The extraordinary life of faith he lived overflowed from His relationship with God. Spending time with God wasn’t a duty George checked off his list. It was his very life and the time He spent with God had great effect on him.
But in what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul? How shall we learn to enjoy God? How obtain such an all-sufficient soul-satisfying portion in Him as shall enable us to let go the things of this world as vain and worthless in comparison? I answer–this happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ. – George Muller.
Like Paul, George counted everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord (Philippians 3:8). God promises to meet our needs.
He understands we need food, shelter, and clothing, but most of us are tempted to get caught up in building our earthly kingdoms.
George and his wife never kept more money than they needed, neither did they waste one minute acquiring earthly treasures. When George Muller died he had only one hundred sixty pounds in his estate, yet, it is estimated he was the steward of almost one and a half million pounds during his lifetime.
George wasn’t concerned with building his own kingdom. All his efforts, time, money, and talent went to building God’s kingdom and God kept His promise to provide for his needs.
God receives the honor and glory when we live for His kingdom and trust Him for our earthly needs. George Muller’s life wasn’t perfect or easy.
He buried an infant son, two wives, and his daughter, but George’s life was extraordinary because He had faith in an extraordinary God.
I have to ask myself, do I live every day in the reality of God’s promises? Whose kingdom am I building? I am asking God to take me deeper in my faith and to expose those areas I am trusting in my own strength or wisdom.
I pray my life will be a reflection of God’s faithfulness as George Muller’s was and continues to be today.
Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. – George Muller
This post was made available through Counseling Solutions with Rick Thomas. Rick writes counseling articles so you can learn to counsel your own heart and others. He brings the Gospel of Christ into everyday life. Check it out. He also has a website you can join for $5 a month and get numerous articles and webinars as well as a forum.