Millstones and Stumbling Blocks

Posted on 06/08/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)

Good morning, and welcome to Abundant Living Ministries CyberChurch!

A special welcome to our visitors. Please make sure you click the welcome sign in the foyer before you leave.

I want to wish a very happy birthday to my wife, Mariposa Psaltery. Be sure to wish her a happy birthday before you leave!

Let's stand to our feet and go to the Lord in prayer.

Lord God, thank you for this brand new day, and that we can come together and seek your face.

We bring before you the private prayer request submitted over the past few days, and the needs that we have here today. You know the situations, and you have already determined the answers to their cries for help.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, Lord. Heal the broken hearted. Comfort those who are mourning. Deliver those held captive by fear, doubt, addiction, and sin. And shake us up -- shake off everything that is not of you, so we can be free to be the people you have called us to become.

*** other prayers, listen to the audio to hear ***

Continue standing, and let's keep in this attitude of worship.


Please turn around and click one of the offering plates, and let's worship God with our giving.


Click the pulpit for a notecard, and let's continue this time of worship with song.

EVEN THE MOUNTAINS

We praise you Lord because you're worthy
You are Lord and King of the earth and sky
Let us lift you up and declare your glory
Let us lift our hands and our voices high

Even the mountains praise your name
the rocks and the stones cry Holy!
Whoever seeks for your face
     will never be the same
Let your kingdom come
     in Jesus' name

I'm an instrument, I am only a vessel
Help me open up to receive your love
Let us put to death thoughts of opposition
Let me step aside and point the world to above

STILL

Hide me now, under Your wings
Cover me, within Your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You, above the storm
Father, You are King over the flood
I will be still, know You are God

Find rest my soul, in Christ alone
Know His power, in quietness and trust

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You, above the storm
Father, You are King over the flood
I will be still, know You are God

Lord, we worship you. And we want to worship you not just with our words, or with our songs, but with our hearts and with our lives.

Speak to us now, and show us how we can worship you in what we do, and in how we touch the world around us.

Thank you Jesus. Amen.


You can be seated.


Today's message is a bit unusual, but I believe it's vital we take a look at something I'm convinced is close to the heart of God.

The title of today's message is, "Millstones and Stumbling Blocks."


You know, children seem to have a special place in God's heart. And while he is near to the oppressed, the downtrodden, the helpless, and the humble, this is what he says about children:

In Matthew 19:13-14 we read this:

13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, and the disciples rebuked them.
14 But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

So he says that the kingdom of heaven is of such as these, that is, little children. And he explains this more in Matthew chapter 18, verses 1 through 6.

Let's read this together.

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me."

So first we see Jesus saying that "of such is the kingdom of heaven," but now this is taken a step further. He says that unless we become as little children, there's no way we will enter the kingdom of heaven.

What does this mean? Well, he explains it in the next verse: "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

A little child generally is humble, at least compared to us "super-mature" adults.

If you lie to a little child and tell him or her there's a Santa Claus, they'll believe you. If you tell them there's a Tooth Fairy, they'll think it's true.

Unless they've been badly abused, if a father puts his son or daughter on a chair and tells them to fall and he'll catch them, they do it. It's fun. It's like a game. And they trust their father.

We, on the other hand, are too smart and experienced for such nonsense. We know that nobody can be trusted, especially someone we can't see. And we know that someone we can't see very likely doesn't exist.

And then we try to enter into the kingdom of heaven. First we have to get past the barrier of believing in the invisible God. Because his Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and convinces us of righteousness and the holiness and existence of God, we lay down our doubts and come to the cross, and we're forgiven and made a brand new creation.

To do this, we must lay down our pride that would keep us from bowing before God, admitting we are sinner who deserve eternal punishment, and then we ask to be forgiven and to be accepted into the family of God.

And then something happens. We are born again. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "You must be born again." This is a spiritual birth, as in the spirit man, we become as a little child. "Unless you become as a little child, you can in no way enter the kingdom of heaven."

So we accept the existence of God and the resurrection of his Son by faith, bowing our hearts humbly before him as we ask for forgiveness and a brand new start. This child-like response to God's invitation results in our spiritually becoming like little children, as we are born again.

And in ways, we're like little children. Everything looks new and alive to us. We can't get enough of the Bible, and want to be in church with his people worshiping him and learning about him just as often as we possibly can. We want everything and anything God has for us, and we believe that he can and will do anything, no matter how impossible it may seem.

Do you remember that time in your life?

But then something happens. We start to revert to our "grown up" way of thinking. Are you with me? We start to lose our child-like nature. The Bible and worship are replaced with comfort and "grown-up" pride. Saying the name of Jesus in a crowd is no longer as natural as a little child calling out for its mommy or daddy.

We might be a bit like the disciples in Matthew 19:13, who rebuked those who brought the children to Jesus. They may have been thinking, "The Master is not a babysitter. He is ministering to mature adults who have real problems, and doesn't need a bunch of little kids crowding around him distracting true ministry."

But Jesus had quite a different perspective, a God perspective. He said, "Don't keep the children away, let them come to me!" And then he said, "after all, the kingdom of heaven is of such as these."

It was just a few verses earlier that he said that only those who become as little children will enter the kingdom of heaven at all. Perhaps the disciples didn't get it. Or maybe they simply forgot. But who can blame them? They're no different from you or me.

We become comfortable in our "savedness", and lose our child-like awe and wonder at the incredible undeservedness of the price Jesus paid for us on the cross, the miracle of all our sins being passed onto Jesus, the sheer delight of being adopted into the family of the King of the universe, and the hunger for the depths of Scripture and the Spirit of the Living God.

We lose our expectancy that God will show up and work miracles on our behalf, and we lose the spiritual vision to recognize when he does.

But we can be refreshed in the inner man and regain those child-like characteristics only by keeping our relationship with Jesus alive, and fresh, and real.

So let's cry out to him for help today. Lord, break up our stoney hearts, and give us hearts of flesh. Restore unto us the joy of your Salvation. Bring us back to our first love. And we commit to seeking after you above all else and at the center of every moment of our every day.


So there you have it, the first thing we see from today's passage -- that we must come in humility and child-like belief in the one who loves us and protects us, and we must work at our relationship with him if we are to keep from hardening over, and instead live in the awe and wonder that comes with the child-like simplicity of abundant life.

Now I'd like for us to take a look at the very next verse. We just read the words of Jesus as he said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me."

Now let's read the next verse, verse six of Matthew chapter eighteen.

6 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Now this sounds really serious. Jesus isn't saying this lightly. Jesus, with the full identity, power, and authority of God, is uttering a very serious warning.

He does not say what the judgment is for causing a little one who believes in him to sin, but says it would be better for him to have a stone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depth of the sea.

He says that if you do not forgive, you won't be forgiven. He says that if you judge others, you will be judged. He says that you reap whatever you sow. But the language he uses here is a bit stronger. "It would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depth of the sea."

Since this sounds like a pretty serious thing, let's take a closer look at this to see what Jesus is saying.

This verse in the King James says "offends," if anyone offends one of these little ones who believes in me. The word "offends" is the greek word "skandaliz┼Ź" (skahnz - zah - lee' - zoh) which means, "to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall."

Brannon Howse with ChristianWorldviewNetwork.com recently shared his experience at a Barnes and Noble bookstore. He says this, and I quote:

"On June 5th, my eleven year old son joined me in a visit to our local Barnes and Noble Bookstore. I was horrified at what my son saw. Open on a table was a very large, full-color, picture book displaying a man in full frontal nudity. The cover was two men kissing with the title GAY SEX. This book was filled with full-color pictures of gay men doing what they do. The assistant manager told me that this was the second time that night this book had been laid open in the store. She also informed me that such books were regularly found in the men's room. she said a young boy had been sexually assaulted in the bathroom at this store and the man was never caught. The assistant manger walked me to where the book was normally kept. Was it behind a counter? No, it was on the top shelf of a bookcase that any 13 year old could reach."

And I repeat the words of Jesus, this time from Luke 17:1-2, "It is impossible that no stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."

I'd like to play some short clips from Brannon Howse, and I strongly encourage you after the service to go to ChristianWorldviewNetwork.com and listen to the entire radio show, and subscribe to the podcast.

So here's Brannon Howse, from the June 6th radio program, "Worldview Matters" from ChristianWorldviewNetwork.com.

*** WM PART ONE - listen to the audio to hear this section ***

"It is impossible that no stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."

You know, we really shouldn't be surprised. We've been heading in this direction for years. We've kept our mouths shut about things that were only mildly offensive to us and seemed only a little bit wrong. And just like a frog who is slowly boiled alive in water without realizing the water is getting hotter, we've been taken, step by step, closer and closer to the edge of the abys.

The United States was founded upon the principles of the Word of God, and its laws and constitution were written to support the laws of the Bible.

Let's hear what the law says about the cause of this incident at Barnes and Noble, and what their response to that law has been. Again, from Brannon Howse of ChristianWorldviewNetwork.com:

*** WM PART TWO & THREE -- listen to the audio to hear ***

"It is impossible that no stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."

The laws originally agreed with these words of Jesus. But times are changing. We're being boiled alive. And our children are being assaulted and destroyed, prime targets for the enemy. What are we doing to protect them?

A child's first sexual experience, be it with another person or with pornography, sets the foundation for their future relationships. Being raised on sexual perversion, it's no wonder more than 60% of marriages end in divorce, and a fourth of married people admit to having committed adultery.

So if this bookstore is breaking the law, shouldn't it be an easy matter to simply send in the police to make them comply or shut them down? Let's listen to a bit more of the program and see.

By the way, I realize this is a bit out of the ordinary, and thank you for hanging in there with me. It's important that we are aware of what's going on in our society, and to see it in light of how God looks at it.

Cut four, from Brannon Howse.

*** WN PART FOUR -- listen to the audio to hear ***

"It is impossible that no stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."

Now, I know that many of you feel the same way I do about this. The thought of innocent children being destroyed by this type of evil shocks you. It probably makes you angry. Well, it should. If it doesn't, then you've been in the pot of boiling water too long, and you're at least half way dead. Come to the source of life today, and beg for healing, just like the blind beggar on the side of the road who would not be silenced, but cried out louder and louder, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!"

*** WM PART FIVE -- listen to the audio to hear ***

"It is impossible that no stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."

Children are so precious in God's eyes. And when we cause these little ones to stumble, we can destroy their lives and the lives of generations to come.

But this is what sin and perversion does. Evil that is done in private does not stay in private. Sin is like a tumor, it spreads and grows. And it destroys those around us.

Do you think that your private sins aren't hurting anyone? Consider that all sins start off as private sins.

Consider Cain and Abel. Cain slew Abel and hid his body. It started off as a private sin. But thousands of years later we know about this sin, and it placed a permanent visible mark on the one who tried so hard to hide it.

Consider David and Bathsheba. His sin with her was private, but it resulted in the death of her husband, and the near destruction of David's household.

Consider the sins of adultery, fornication, and homosexuality. The Bible tells us that these sins are against the body, who for the Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Not too long ago, these sins were almost always private. Nobody knew. They hurt no one except those engaging in them, or that's what people thought.

But sin does not and can not remain private. It always grows, becoming increasingly evil. And, being the tool of pride, destruction, and death, it eventually exposes itself so that it can destroy others.

"It is impossible that no stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."

Remember these words next time you are tempted to accept the lie that we should be tollerant of sinful lifestyles. They are destroying the little ones. And those who place stumbling blocks have a judgment in store for them that we can't even imagine.

The good news is, there is hope for us. There is hope for those who have knowingly or unknowingly created stumbling blocks by their private or public sins. And that hope is Jesus. If you will turn to him and accept his sacrifice, letting your sins be placed upon him and allowing him to set you free from them, then you will be washed whiter than the freshly-fallen snow.


I would like to encourage all of you to let Barnes and Noble know, and any other family bookstore that does what they are doing, that you will not do business with them until they will provide an atmosphere that is safe for children. If we do not do what is in our power to do to protect the innocent, we play a part in their destruction.

I hope we all catch the heart of God, see how serious he is about that which would make a little one stumble, and come to their defense.


The ministry team can come to the front now.

This altar is open. Whether you need to repent for your private or public sins, or you want to commit yourself to do more to protect our children, or you just want to seek God and cry out for mercy on our land and deliverance for those who are held captive by sin, then get out of your seat and let's gather at the front.

If you need prayer or ministry, you can instant message someone on the ministry team.

If you need to go, you're free to do so, and I ask that you carry any conversations outside during this time of ministry.

Come.