George Mueller: Observe the hand of God

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George Mueller: Observe the hand of God

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:4

“4 February: This evening I called on the owner of the land on Ashley Down, about which I had heard on 2 February, but he was not at home. As I had been informed that I should find him at his house of business, I went there, but did not find him there either, as he had just before left. I might have called again at his residence, at a later hour having been informed by one of the servants that he would be sure to be at home about eight o’clock; but I did not do so judging that there was the hand of God in my not finding him at either place: and I judged it best therefore not to force the matter, but to ‘let patience have her perfect work.’

5 February: Saw this morning the owner of the land. He told me that he awoke at three o’clock this morning and could not sleep again till five. While he was thus lying awake, his minds all the time occupied about the piece of land, respecting which inquiry had been made of him for the building of an Orphan-House, at my request; and he determined that if I should apply for it, he would not only let me have it, but for £120 per acre, instead of £200; the price which he had previously asked for it. How good is the Lord! The agreement was made this morning, and I purchased the field of nearly seven acres, at £120 per acre. Observe the hand of God at home last evening! The Lord meant to speak to His servant first about this matter, during a sleepless night, and to lead him fully to decide, before I had seen him.”

George Mueller in Answers to Prayer by George Mueller (Nashville: B&H, 2017) 42-43.

Two days ago I had my monthly coffee with a mentor and friend, Rich Haynie. He stands with me in prayer as CEO of Global Trust Partners like Abiathar the priest stood by David in the Old Testament. He asked me how I was doing. I shared that for some needs for GTP I was having to wait patiently on the Lord.

He smiled widely as God had led to read this story to me. He wanted me to know that I should “let patience have her perfect work” and reminded me to let my requests be made known unto God so that the peace that passes all understanding would guard and keep me in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

This filled my soul with joy. How good it is to have friends who pray for us and remind us to trust God with our needs. This inspired me, since GTP is just getting going, to journal answers to prayer. That’s my plan. So that God’s glory might be made known as He supplies answers to prayer. just like Mueller and the Orphan-House.

Near the end of our time, he shared this prayer with me from the book (40). He prayed it for me and I share it now praying it for all readers of this meditation. May the Holy Spirit give us eyes to “observe the hand of God” and rest in the fact that we are kept in His faithful hands.

Father, reveal to me an area in which my faith might be tried today. A place You are asking me to remove my hands, my control, and my mind, and to trust You with the strategy oof my life and portion. That’s a hard thing to let go of, and I know You know this, as You sent Your Son to be ridiculed, mocked, and crucified by men who misunderstood, were blind, and were disobedient to You. I know that letting go of my need to control my life means it will appear to be in the hands of those who will not be faithful with it, But, Father, show me how I am kept in Your hands. Show me how You are a “very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Give me eyes to see that You are with me and in control, and give me a worshipping heart in response to Your care — even if I falter along the way. In the name of your Son. Amen.

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F. W. Faber: Love Kindness

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

“Kindness has converted more sinners than either zeal, eloquence, or learning.”

F. W. Faber (1814-1863), an English minister, in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 363.

Imagine for a moment that you are Micah.

God’s people have gone astray and He gives you this message to deliver. God does not want offerings. He wants His people to treat each other fairly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with Him.

Essentially Micah was to tell the people that God did not need them to do things for Him. He wanted them to follow His design for living. It was to show in their daily interactions with others and in their walk with God.

When we pause to reflect, it becomes clear why God would desire this. He wants His people to present Him to the world through their everyday living, giving, serving, and loving.

And the wise minister, F. W. Faber, reminds us that such behavior will win more people to faith than “zeal, eloquence, or learning.” Remarkable. And, these traits are accessible to everyone.

What’s the lesson for us today related to generosity?

As we enter a season of thankfulness and giving in the USA, let us humbly give the gift of kindness wherever we go in order to win people to faith in Christ with a generous balance of actions and words.

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Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert: Appropriate Words in a Kindly Way

Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24

“The art of saying appropriate words in a kindly way is one that never goes out of fashion, never ceases to please, and is within the reach of the humblest.”

Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 363.

I pulled off the road and shot this new header photo in the Black Hills region on my way home from hunting. Short stops like short quotes give us perspective. This one sure does. Hear it again.

“The art of saying appropriate words in a kindly way is one that never goes out of fashion, never ceases to please, and is within the reach of the humblest.”

This comes easy for some people. Not me. When you have a prophetic gift, you know the appropriate words to say, but the delivery is not always kindly. Notice Scripture says that kind words are like honey to the soul.

This behavior “never goes out of fashion, never ceases to please, and is within the reach of the humblest.” So there’s hope for people like me to dispense such honey, and perhaps you too!

Our greatest acts of generosity require discernment more than dollars and wisdom more than wealth. May God help us grow in these areas for His glory.

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Humphry Davy: Little Things

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindnesses and small obligations, given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart.”

Humphry Davy in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 368.

In today’s Scripture, a tiny seed produces a huge plant. Likewise, little things can make a big difference when done habitually with smiles and kindness.

I’ve enjoyed a great hunting trip with John Roswech and with Hope St. Teresa and Joy St. Clare (our son’s dog and our dog). Today I head home slowly through a snowstorm.

This has been one of God’s message to me for every corner of my life from this hunting retreat: do little things with great love and kindness.

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James Martineau: Noble workers

But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand. Isaiah 32:8

“The true use of a man’s possessions is to help his work; and the best end of all his work is to show us what he is. The noblest workers of our world bequeath us nothing so great as the image of themselves. Their task, be it ever so glorious, is historical and transient; the majesty of their spirit is essential and eternal.”

James Martineau in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 361.

Martineau inspires us to make sure we are using what we have to show the world who we are. What does your work say about who you are? Noble workers make plans and put to work all they are and all they have. Do you?

Today is my last day of pheasant hunting. We are getting a snowstorm so we made plans to hunt where we think we quickly find birds. We saved the best hunting spots for today. God, grant us favor.

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Horace Bushnell: Our unconscious influence is our chief influence

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

“The Bible calls the good man’s life a light; and it is the nature of light to flow out spontaneously in all directions, and fill the world unconsciously with its beams. So the Christian shines it would say, not so much because he will, as because he is a luminous object. Not that the active influence of Christians is made of no account in the figure, but only that this symbol of light has its propriety in the fact that their unconscious influence is the chief influence, and has the precedence in its power over the world. The outward endeavors made by good men or bad to sway others, they call their influence; whereas it is, in fact, but a fraction, and, in most cases, but a very small fraction of the good or evil that flows out of their lives.”

Horace Bushnell in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 350.

What if we lived as though the chief influence of our lives is who and what we are and not what we do. This is good for me to think about as I walk the fields of North Dakota with my friend, John Roswech. The irony of the Christian faith is that our unconscious influence is our chief influence.

Do we live as though this is true? How can we nurture the ‘being’ aspect to our faith? I am realizing that is part of the reason God gave me the opportunity to go hunting this weekend. To just ‘be’ with the Lord, and of course our dog, Joy St. Clare, and Sammy’s dog, Hope St. Teresa.

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Samuel Rutherford: The cure for timidity

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

“The only cure for indolence is work; the only cure for selfishness is sacrifice; the only cure for unbelief is to shake off the ague of doubt, by doing Christ’s bidding; the only cure for timidity is to plunge into some dreaded duty before the chill comes on.”

Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 346.

I made it safely to Mott, North Dakota, yesterday evening. I am thankful for the opportunity to hunt pheasant and fellowship with John Roswech and some of his friends.

Think with me about the fact that God has given you the power, love, and self-discipline that you need to live out the Christian faith. Seriously, reflect on the fact that you have all you need to sustain you.

When I teach, I say that you don’t figure it out until you live it out that the teachings of Jesus on money will help you take hold of life, sometimes people give me a funny look. It’s the look of timidity.

Rutherford reminds us that the cure for timidity is to work, to sacrifice, to defy all doubt by living a life of faith and trust with commitment to fulfilling our duty as followers of Christ.

He rightly refers to it as taking a plunge because it requires faith. Those who do find it is the antidote for avarice, the cure for consumerism, and the prescription for peace.

My family can testify that until Christ is all you have, you don’t really realize that He’s all you have ever needed and will ever need. Take the plunge before the proverbial chill comes on.

Work, put some sacrifice in your generosity, and quench all doubt with the experience of putting your trust in God to sustain you. Again, you don’t discover it’s the cure until you try it.

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James Hamilton: Lose all confidence

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

“The reason why the publican returned from the Temple justified was that he had got that lowly and self-emptied mind to which the grace of God is welcome. It was not his standing afar off merely, nor his dejected eyes, nor his smiting on his breast, but his despair of himself and his hope in God’s mercy — “God be merciful to me a sinner.” And you will be justified, too, when, losing all confidence in the flesh, you learn to rejoice in Jesus Christ.”

James Hamilton in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 335.

Those close to me will often hear me say in times of prayer, trial or difficulty, “Lord have mercy.” I say this because I have learned that down is up in the kingdom of God.

Early in my journey I was the pharisee in the story. My faith was a to-do list, and I pridefully ticked the boxes. I did not realize that the handling of money was about helping my heart get to where it needed to be.

Then over time I matured into the publican. I realized that the path for growth was actually losing confidence in myself and hoping only in God’s mercy. “Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.”

Today, as I look honestly into my heart, I find both characters, the pharisee and the publican. The paradox is that this means I can both exhibit humility and fall into the trap of pride. Perhaps you can relate?

So, as I drive 9 hours to Mott, ND, to meet my pheasant-hunting friends John Roswech and Shawn McFarland, I reflect on my life and resolve to lose all confidence in the flesh and rejoice only in God’s mercy.

God does not need our money. He wants our hearts. He’s not impressed by our disciplines. He wants them to shape us into humble servants who hope only in His mercy. What about you? Care to join me?

Lord have mercy on us. We confess, we are sinners. We fast from all confidence in our flesh. We rejoice and hope in You alone. In your mercy, hear our prayer because of your unfailing love.

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Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert: The Costly Price of Empathy

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

“Therefore, if you aspire to be a son of consolation — if you would partake of the priestly gift of sympathy — if you would pour something beyond common-place consolation into a tempted heart — if you would pass through the daily intercourse of daily life with the delicate tact which never inflicts pain — if, to that most acute of human ailments, mental doubt, you are ever to give effectual succor, you must be content to pay the price of the costly education. Like Him, you must suffer — being tempted.”

Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 574.

As a CEO, I am asking God to help me grow in empathy. To this point, the Spirit has led me to build a “with you” culture in the GTP organization. This comes into view as a community of servants who appear as sons and daughters of consolation. We come alongside ministry administrators in need and assist them.

As I dig deeper into empathy and its relationship to generosity, I find it calls for a willingness to suffer in unexpected ways. I am experiencing this in real time.

For example, at present, I am teaching my online course, Faith and Finances, at Asian Theological Seminary and one student confessed fear and worry linked to obeying the teachings of Jesus on money. Others concurred. At that point, though I know the truth that can set them free from fear and worry, I determined first to meet them in their place of fear and worry. It’s actually really hard to do.

If I dismiss this situation, they remain locked in sin and shame. But, only when I allow myself to feel the same temptation, do I help them bear this burden and discover the freedom only found in Jesus. I can’t do this for everyone but can serve those God puts in my path. This is a costly price because we have to humble ourselves, and meet people where they are struggling.

This is priceless generosity. I have a long way to go in this area. Perhaps you do too? With God’s help, let us meet people where they are with the love of Christ and give the gift of empathy.

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F. W. Farrar: Sympathy

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9

“We often do more good by our sympathy than by our labors. A man may lose position, influence, wealth, and even health, and yet live on in comfgrt, if with resignation; but there is one thing without which life becomes a burden — that is human sympathy.”

F. W. Farrar in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 574.

Think about this idea. “We often do more good by our sympathy than by our labors.” For some of you, this is not a new idea. This mindset guides your living, giving, serving, and loving. God bless you people!

For the rest of us who tend to focus on our labors, it’s profound to think that listening, for example, may be the best gift we can give someone. Such sympathy costs nothing. We can all do it. But it requires effort.

The Apostle Peter beckons us to be like-minded, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble toward each other. This is the pathway both giving and receiving blessing. It’s key for our generosity.

Father, remind us of the good we can do by being sympathetic today. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to be loving and compassionate. Hear our prayer in your mercy in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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