Day 18: Set The Table



Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
— Hebrews 11:1 ESV

This definition in Hebrews is the clearest definition of the idea of faith.

Being sure of things we have hoped for doesn’t come easily to everyone.  It came easy to a man named George Muller.  George Muller was a Christian evangelist who established the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England in the mid 1800s.  He cared for and educated over 10,000 orphans during his faith filled life.

Muller had a deep conviction that he would pray to God to meet every need of the orphanage, and then he had the faith that God would completely answer those prayers.

One morning in 1862, the matron of the orphanage came into George’s office and told him that the children were ready for breakfast, but there wasn’t a thing in the house to eat.  He went to the dining room to find 300 children standing at their chairs.  The tables were set with plates, mugs, knives, forks, and spoons.

“There’s not much time.  I don’t want any of you to be late for school, so let us pray,” Muller told them.  He prayed a simple prayer, saying, “Dear God, we thank you for what you are going to give us to eat.  Amen.”

Without panic, fear, or worry, Muller told the children to be seated.

In the time it took for the 300 bottoms to find their seats, there was a knock at the door.  Muller opened the door to find the town baker standing with his hat in his hands.

The baker, with uncertainly in his voice, began to explain why he was at their door that morning, “I couldn’t sleep last night. I kept thinking that somehow you would need bread this morning and that I was suppose to get up and bake it for you.  So I got up at two o’clock and made three batches for you.  I hope you can use it.”

Muller’s kind eyes shown as he assured the baker of his contribution, telling him, “God has blessed us through you this morning.”

Maybe because God has a sense of humor, and He told us many times that man cannot live on bread alone, God also sent a milk man with a broken wheel that morning to donate enough milk for all 300 mugs, plus a little for afternoon tea.

The kind of faith it takes to set a table, pray asking for food, and wait for God to supply is unique in this world.  That is why we are still telling this story 150 years later.

There are preachers that will paint God as a magic jeanie, who if we “sew our seeds of faith” in the correct way, will give us that new thing we desire.  This manipulation of the teachings of faith has no comparison to a genuine story like feeding 300 orphans breakfast one day in England 150 years ago.

I think our spirit feels the difference between artificial faith and genuine faith.

Muller’s faith was as genuine as it gets.

Honestly, I would like to think I have the kind of faith that sets the table, prays and waits, but deep down I know that I’m not there yet.  I know that questions of how, where, and when would bang so loudly between my temples, and my heart would begin to pound in those waiting moments.  What if God doesn’t show up?  How long do we let these children set at a table with only glass and metal set before them?

How do I get to that kind of faith that sets a table and waits for God to show up?  How can I have assurance of the things I hope for and a conviction of things that are not right in front of my eyes?  Because I want to be there.

The first chapter of second Peter reminds us that God has given us everything we need for life and Godliness, and that we have been given promises that allow us to become less like ourselves and more like God.  And how is this accomplished?

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
— 1 Peter 1: 5-9 ESV

Peter tells us that our starting building block is faith.  It’s the basic stuff of salvation, and we’ve been told that that beginning block is given by God.  On this block of faith we begin to build, adding virtue, then knowledge, then self-control, and then endurance, and then godliness.  I would think godliness would be the end goal, but it isn’t.  We then add brotherly affection.  Apparently the basic skill of getting along with people is harder than enduring or being godly.  And finally we see our goal, and it is love.

Then Peter shames us a little bit.  Verse nine is kind of a roast.  He says if we are lacking these qualities, that we are so nearsighted that we are blind and that we have forgot what Jesus did for us.

If I was at Citychurch where yo' mamma jokes rein, I might say, “Your mom is nearsighted.”  But that’s probably disrespectful.

But if my goal is to have hope and be convinced of things that are not right in front of my eyes, to set the table without seeing the bread or the milk, then Peter has just told me how to do that.  And it isn’t an answer that I would expect.

He says remember God’s promises, remember that being more like Jesus isn’t just a cute saying.  And to do that you are going to have to strive for virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness.  And don’t stop there.  Strive for brotherly affection and then love.

If you are reading this, you probably have a longing for more faith in your life, like I do in mine.  Let us remember that faith isn’t the end goal, it is the building block to something better.  Love.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
— 1 Corinthians 13:2 ESV



Worship with me.