In my preparation this past week for speaking about the clarity that God’s word brings, I was reminded of the story of George Mueller. George Mueller is most known for building five large orphan houses and that provided care for 10,024 orphans in his life. When he started in 1834 there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England and twice that many children under eight were in prison. One of the great effects of Mueller's ministry was to inspire others so that “fifty years after Mr. Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone.”
George Mueller was also a pastor. He preached three times a week from 1830 to 1898, which means that was at least 10,000 times. When he turned 70 he fulfilled a life-long dream of missionary work for the next 17 years until he was 87. He traveled to 42 countries, preaching on average of once a day, and addressing some three million people.
From the end of his travels in 1892 (when he was 87) until his death in March of 1898 he preached in his church and worked for the Scripture Knowledge Institute. At age 92, not long before he died, he wrote, “I have been able, every day and all the day to work, and that with ease, as seventy years since.” He led a prayer meeting at his church on the evening of Wednesday, March 9, 1898. The next day a cup of tea was taken to him at seven in the morning but no answer came to the knock on the door. He was found dead on the floor beside his bed.
Where did this incredible life of following Jesus come from? Here Mr. Mueller’s words:
According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself.
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.
The more we know of God, the happier we are. . . . When we became a little acquainted with God our true happiness is commenced; and the more we become acquainted with him, the more truly happy we become. What will make us so exceedingly happy in heaven? It will be the fuller knowledge of God.
Now in brotherly love and affection I would give a few hints to my younger fellow-believers as to the way in which to keep up spiritual enjoyment. It is absolutely needful in order that happiness in the Lord may continue, that the Scriptures be regularly read. These are God's appointed means for the nourishment of the inner man. Consider it, and ponder over it. Especially we should read regularly through the Scriptures, consecutively, and not pick out here and there a chapter. If we do, we remain spiritual dwarfs. I tell you so affectionately. For the first four years after my conversion I made no progress, because I neglected the Bible. But when I regularly read on through the whole with reference to my own heart and soul, I directly made progress. Then my peace and joy continued more and more. Now I have been doing this for 47 years. I have read through the whole Bible about 100 times and I always find it fresh when I begin again. Thus my peace and joy have increased more and more.
Christ Church may you regularly and consecutively study God’s word, consider it, ponder it and so find your souls happy in Jesus!