One of the reasons why I like listening to Piper's biographies is because he's done the hard work for us. Instead of me having to read several books, he's taken the most interesting aspects of a saint's life and formed it into an interesting, spiritually-challenging lecture.
Here are some teasers:
1) Besides being a pastor, Mueller cared for over 10,000 orphans in the course of his life. When he died:
“Tens of thousands of people reverently stood along the route of the simple procession; men left their workshops and offices, women left their elegant homes or humble kitchens, all seeking to pay a last token of respect.” A thousand children gathered for a service at the Orphan House No. 3. They had now “for a second time lost a ‘father'.”
2) George Mueller cared for these orphans without ever once asking for money or going into the slightest bit of debt. Instead, Mueller prayed that the Lord would move in the heart of the wealthy to cause them to give, and neither Mueller nor one of his orphans ever went to bed hungry.
Piper is quick to point out that we should not gather from his life that it is wrong for people such as missionaries to ask for money--Paul asked for money on behalf of other suffering Christians. But Mueller lived his life this way as a testimony of the faithfulness of God to provide for his children. Mueller's goal in life was to increase the faith of fellow believers by the way he handled his finances and cared for orphans, and by his dependence on God.
3) Mueller's view of the gift of faith: Mueller stressed to those around him that he did not have a special gift of faith, as in the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12.
All believers are called to show hospitality, but there are some who have a special gift of hospitality. All must be generous givers, but some have a special gift of giving above and beyond. So it is with faith, Mueller believed. All believers exercise their faith in the promises that God has made in the Bible. But the special gift of faith that is mentioned in 1 Co. 12 is a gift that God gives at times to have the faith to believe something not promised in the Bible. For example, the Bible does not promise us that if we are obedient, we will not suffer from sickness. But there are times when someone with the extraordinary gift of faith may pray for another's healing and suddenly know that God will grant it.
The faith that Mueller believed he had was the ordinary faith that are all called to practice. God has promised us that he will supply the basics of life for us, food and clothing, if we seek first his kingdom. Mueller did not want others to imagine that he was able to live the way he did, on constant reliance on God, because he was in a special category and had a special gift of faith that not all have. Instead, he wanted to send the message that every believer can trust God to supply all their needs. Whether we have one or two children, ten children, or 2,000 at a time like Mueller did, we can trust that they will be provided for.
This is not the same as the health and wealth gospel (think Joel Osteen), which claims God will supply not all your needs, but all your wants if you have faith. Big difference. Mueller did not live a life of luxury.
To listen, download, or for text of the lecture, as well as footnotes go here.