Forest Heights Baptist Church

A family in love with God

 FHBC IS A FAMILY IN LOVE WITH GOD WHO OBEYS HIS COMMANDS, SHARES HIS GOOD NEWS TO ALL PEOPLE, AND MAKES DISCIPLES OF JESUS FOR THE GLORY OF HIS NAME.

Our church gathers to do more than just sing music and listen to preaching.  We gather as the family of God to bring glory to HIS NAME, to encourage, love and edify each another, to articulate and live in light of the grace and suffering of Jesus Christ.

We gather regularly. Come be part of our family. See you soon.

"Our Story in His Story" (Genesis 1-11)

“So, what’s your story?”  My wife likes to ask that question of people that we don’t know very well so as to gain an insight into their life and world.  The fact is that everyone has a story.  Our story has twists and turns.  It tells where we have come from and what has shaped us.  Each individual’s story is unique.  Yet, when we compare our stories, we find some remarkable similarities.  And furthermore, we find that our stories are not ours alone, but they are intertwined with the stories of others.

Despite all of this, do our stories really matter?  At some point our stories will be overshadowed by the stories of others.  Or perhaps your story becomes quite bland or predictable.  Eventually, your story will come to an end.  As we look to Genesis 1-11 today, we find that our stories are significant, but they are enfolded into a larger story that is beyond us—a story that pushes history forward, a story with cosmic ramifications, a story with a directed purpose.  May God show us today how our story fits into his story for his glory and our good.

"Abiding in the Word Together" (Deuteronomy 8:1-20)

Happy New Year!  Can you believe it is now 2014?  I remember thinking years ago that I would never turn 40 because 2014 was so far into the future.  Well, guess what?  2014 is here and I’ll be 40 in July!  God is good.  He has all the times and seasons in hands.  Nothing escapes his notice.  He is not powerless in the face of the troubles and hardships we encounter in this world. 

So much greater, then, is the reason that we need to look to him for life, comfort, and guidance.  God provides such things for us in his Word.  In Deuteronomy 8:1-20, God commanded Israel to abide in his Word and warned them of the dangers of failing to observe his Word.  As a community under the lordship of Jesus Christ, bound together by the new covenant secured in his blood, and committed to the proclamation of his gospel, it behooves us to abide together in the Word.  Today, I want to challenge our congregation to read the Scriptures together this year.  This morning, I will lay out the plan of how we shall do just that.  Won’t you join me in this endeavor?

Happy New Year!

            Another year has come and gone.  It seems unreal that we are here again.  Time marches on, and we are powerless to stop it.  That is why we must be deliberate and intentional about the time that we have.  Let me encourage you to make the most of the time you have in 2014.  Make a new commitment to discipline yourselves in the ways of Christ so that you might grow in his grace and knowledge.  Consider such things as your commitment to the Word, to prayer, to corporate worship, to sacrificial giving, to gospel outreach, and to the cause of missions.

            The Lehman family is taking some time off at the close of this year to spend with our family and for Crissa and I to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. I want to publicly state here that my wife is God’s gift to me.  Join me in thanking the Lord for her!  My friend and brother in Christ, Rev. Bruce Ferris, is filling the pulpit for me today.  Please pray for him and hear him speak God’s Word to you.

 

God's Word Became Flesh (John 1:1-18)

            This week as our family gathers together to celebrate this special holiday, we will read the Christmas story.  No doubt, you are familiar with Matthew and Luke’s account of the Christmas story.  Those narratives tell the historical events that resulted in the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, the visitation of the shepherds and wise men, and the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt.  But are you as familiar with John’s Christmas story?

            You students of the Bible will tell me that there is no account of Christ’s birth in the Gospel of John and you would be partially right!  Before John begins with the beginning of Christ’s public ministry, he opens his gospel with a prologue to give us a preview as to who this Jesus is.  And what he details in John 1:1-18 shows us that the Christ existed long before he ever appeared on earth and explains why he came to earth as a man.  As we continue our series on “Abiding in the Word”, let us consider the truly, living, and incarnate Word of God who fully reveals God and spreads abroad his grace and truth.

God's Word Requires Obedience (John 14:15-31)

            The most difficult task in parenting is teaching children obedience.  While some children may learn obedience easier than others, all children struggle with obedience issues because rebellion lies at the core of the human heart.  We gravitate toward disobedience because we love ourselves and in our own authority we act in the interest of ourselves.  That realm of self-rule often collides with the authority that God has given parents in the home.  With truth, patience, and much grace, God helps guide parents to learn obedience and thus know more deeply his goodness.

            As we continue our study on abiding in the Word, we come to the aspect of obedience as it regards the Scriptures.  God’s Word requires our obedience.  That’s not a hard truth to learn or understand; the rubs lies in our miserable failure at actually doing the Word.  Like a child, our sinful nature takes over and moves us toward rebellion; our will and self-love clash with the authority and the agenda of God.  In John 14:15-31, Jesus teaches why we must obey God’s Word and how we can indeed obey God’s Word to his glory and our good.

God's Word Sustains Life (Psalm 19:1-14)

            What do you need to live?  I remember my teacher asking that question on the first day of 11th grade biology.  There are certain substances and factors that are necessary sustain life.  We need food, water, oxygen, vitamins, minerals, physical activity, rest, shelter, and clothing at the very least.  Other organisms need additional resources like light or darkness, warm weather or cold, and acidic or non-acidic conditions.  Some people or animals may need certain kinds of medicines to live in they are ill or have some kind of debilitating condition.  Life requires these resources; the absence of them leads to physical deterioration and ultimately death.

            The same is true for us spiritually.  We need certain elements not only to sustain life, but have the abundant life that Jesus promised those who are his by faith.  One essential, apart from which we have no life, is the Word of God.  I love the psalmist’s praise of the life-giving Word in Psalm 19:1-14.  This morning we will consider how God’s Word sustains our spiritual life and we will see how without the Word we truly have no life at all.

God's Word Makes Alive (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

            A few months ago, I was asked by a local funeral home to do the service for a man who had no church family.  It was one of the strangest services I have ever been a part of.  About two minutes into the eulogy, the deceased’s nephew began wailing.  He wailed so loud that no one could hear my voice over the sound system.  And he continued to wail for a good 3-4 minutes as I spoke about the man he dearly loved.

            For those who have no hope, I suppose his grief was justified.  The corpse is dead, completely lifeless, void of any hope for new life.  He’s not returning to life apart from a miracle.  After all, have you, during a visitation or a funeral service, ever seen a corpse sit up in the casket and become animated again?  Imagine then the prophet’s response when the Lord asked him, “Can these bones live?”.  In Ezekiel 37:1-14, God tells the prophet to speak the divine word.  Because of the power of God’s word, those bones, though very dry and dead, came to life and produced a living people.

Prominent or Preeminent? (Colossians 1:15-23)

            One of the glorious outcomes of the gospel is the union of such a diverse people that reflects the wisdom, the artistry, and the goodness of God’s creation.  As the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2:11-22, Christ has leveled the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile (and even between every people group on earth) to form a new people of God, a new family with God as Father, Christ as elder brother, and members of every people, tribe, tongue, and nation who place faith in Jesus Christ as brothers and sisters.  How glorious the gospel!  How great the Creator and Redeemer of sinful men!

            This morning we gather together as a family to worship our wonderful God and to remember his gospel.  Today, I share with you my brother—yes, most importantly my brother in Christ, but also my brother in the flesh.  Though he’s on vacation this weekend from his church, Jeff has graciously offered to share the Word of God with us today.  What better message could he bring than the truth that Christ is pre-eminent in all things!  Listen and rejoice as he shares from Colossians 1:15-23.

The Inevitable Destruction of the Wicked (Nahum 3:1-19)

            Have you ever had the experience of warning your children about not engaging in some destructive behavior or bad habit?  I can’t think of a specific instance at this moment, but I know that I have repeatedly warned my children of doing things they shouldn’t.  Such a behavior or habit will lead to some negative consequence and in an effort to spare my child of the pain, I warn them.  Inevitably, they ignore my warning, get injured, and come running to me for consolation.  There’s not much I can do at that point except say “I told you so.”

            God in his abundant grace and incredible kindness warns us of our sin and the impending judgment that will come.  Offenses against a holy God render eternal consequences that he will bring to pass on the day of judgment.  Yet, many ignore the warnings and continue in their vile wickedness disregarding God’s judgment.  Yet, the Scripture assures us that God’s judgment is sure.  In Nahum 3:1-19, the prophet looks ahead to the judgment the nation of Assyria will face and in the process warns God’s people lest they face a similar judgment.

The Incredible Arrogance of Man (Nahum 2:1-13)

            What do you take pride in?  Your job?  Your family?  Your lawn?  Your appearance?  It is natural for human beings to take pride in many things.  There is a sense in which our “pride” is really nothing more than a sense of gratitude for some possession or ability that God has given us by his grace or a sense of fulfillment that we have done something at the highest level to the glory of God.  More than likely, however, our pride is a self-confidence or a self-pleasure that emerges from a corrupt heart completely fixated on self.

            Pride is natural to the human condition.  Our first parents sinned when pride took root in their hearts.  They displayed their arrogance by distrusting and disrespecting God’s commandment and delighted in their own wills and loves.  The root of all sin is pride which condemns the human race to eternal destruction.  In Nahum 2:1-13, the prophet exposes the pride of the Assyrians and links it to their utter destruction.  Let us beware the danger and curse of pride and let us be thankful that the God who once stood against us because of our pride is now for us in Christ who dealt perfectly with our arrogance. 

 

The Incomparable Greatness of God (Nahum 1:1-15)

            What is God really like?  There are no shortage of opinions about God!  Just ask any child or the man on the street.  Such talk is nothing more than the ruminations of unenlightened minds and idolatrous hearts.  Apart from the wisdom and revelation of God, sinful men create a multiplicity of gods that reflect their own vanity and selfishness.

Are we left to our own imaginations, then, or can we really know who God is?  And if we know who he truly is, how does that impact how we relate to him?  In the middle of the 7th century BC, the prophet Nahum, inspired by the Holy Spirit, set forth a revelation of God to both his people Israel and to the foreign nation of Assyria. Such an exalted revelation of God was meant to provoke both fear and assurance, relating both curse and compassion.  In Nahum 1:1-15, the prophet sets before us the incomparable greatness of God, such an exalted, glorious, and awesome display of God before his creation.  As we consider this revelation, let us respond in fear and humility, in repentance and faith, in worship and adoration, in joy and hope.

A Faith That Shapes Community (1 Thess. 5:12-28)

            We live in a complex of varying communities.  We are part of biological (families), geographic (neighborhoods), educational (schools), employment, social (based on factors such as ethnicity, language, culture, common interest), and religious communities (based on a belief system and worship practices).  Communities can overlap neatly and compactly or they may be so diverse that the transition from one to the other draws special attention from us or others.  The boundaries of a community are sharply defined by its unique characteristics and criteria. 

            The church itself is a community.  The New Testament portrays the church community using a variety of metaphors from daily life.  The image most perhaps endearing and relatable is that of “family”.  The church is the family of God.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, Paul draws on the family imagery to speak about how the church is to live as a “family”.  He uses family language, he promotes peace as an essential familial quality, he outlines proper familial relationships, and he lays out proper family goals.  This morning, we will pay particular attention to how the gospel and our faith through the gospel shape our community life as a church.

A Faith That Watches Vigilantly (1 Thess. 5:1-11)

            Christian history has been littered with predictions of the dates and times of Christ’s return.  Most recently, Harold Camping, an evangelist and president of Family Radio predicted that Christ would return first on May 21, 2011 and then on October 21, 2011 when his first prediction failed.  Both days have come and gone, and yet Christ still has not come.

            The apostle Paul had instructed the Thessalonians that the times and seasons of Christ’s return were unknown.  Yet, the day of the Lord would seize the inhabitants of the world like a thief in the night and a pregnant woman in labor.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Paul affirmed again the certainty of Christ’s return, but called the church to live in a state of watchfulness and vigilance.  That day is the day of our salvation, the day for which we long.  We should live in eager anticipation of it, as if today were the day.  Even more, we are children of light.  We ought not to be lulled into a sleep of moral and spiritual laxity, but we should live in sobriety and attentiveness as is becoming of our new identity in Christ.

A Faith That Inspires Hope (1 Thess. 4:13-18)

            Discussion about the return of Christ or the “end times” among believers usually devolves into debate and disagreement.  We all have Bible verses to prove our point, timelines and charts that make clear our position, and books by our favorite authors answering the critics.  A doctrine that is meant to encourage and inspire us as a body of believers to live with greater perseverance and faithfulness amidst the proliferation of afflictions all around us instead provokes division and animosity.  Paul said “encourage one another with these words”, not “debate one another with these words” or “divide one another with these words”.

            The Thessalonian church was uninformed about the return of Christ and what it meant for them.  Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 to encourage them and so that they might encourage one another.  In the midst of severe hardships, the temptation to walk away from the gospel were great.  Yet, Paul set before the church a glorious vision of its destiny in Christ, a destiny designed to provoke unwavering faithfulness and steadfast perseverance in the face of all its trial.  We also should “encourage one another with these words.”

Sufficient Faith (Luke 17)

Though autumn has been officially here for two weeks now, it really hasn’t felt like fall until this week.  As we have turned the page of the calendar yet again and as the air has been just a little cooler in the early morning and later evening hours, we transition to a new season and enjoy the wonders of God’s grace that come with it.  Our family has not really had a week’s vacation since the end of last year, but with the cooler weather, relief from school work, and upcoming birthdays to celebrate, we are taking this week to reconnect with one another.

            Whether we are present or absent from the body, the Lord’s Day gathering of God’s people continues for the purpose of worshiping the One who laid his life down for our salvation.  Our friend and brother Doug Martin will bring the exposition of God’s Word for you from Luke 17.  Give thanks for this precious servant of the Lord and pray for him as he shares the Scriptures.  May God speak his word to you with power, conviction, and grace and may the Holy Spirit apply this word to your life for his glory.

A Faith That Sets Apart (1 Thess. 4:1-12)

            We live in a culture where distinctiveness is celebrated.  Sometimes this is good; at other times it is not so good.  During job interviews, we want to distinguish ourselves from other candidates considered for employment.  At funerals, we paint a picture of the deceased highlighting his/her uniqueness.  At the prom, a teen girl would abhor the prospect of having the same dress as someone else.  In the gay community, men and women “come out of the closet” in an attempt to communicate their distinction from the socially accepted norm.

            In the economy of God, the right distinctiveness is a good thing.  God has called his people out of darkness and into the light.  He decrees our separation from the world so that we might be a distinctive people for his name.  If we truly believe in Jesus Christ, we have been set apart and we must now live in this way.  In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, Paul exhorts the church to live lives set apart for the glory of God by walking in the will of God.  Such a distinction from the Gentile world marks them as the new people of God and gives evidence of genuine faith.

A Faith That Binds Together, Part 2 (1 Thess. 2:17-3:13)

            Baptist are well known for their love of fellowship.  Typically, we gather in a room called the “fellowship hall”, we sit at a table, we eat scrumptious food, and we talk about stuff that it s important to us.  But Baptists, food, and a hall do not a necessarily a “fellowship” make.  As we began to see last week, Christian fellowship involves a mutually shared love between believers that transcends the kind of earthly love that we are accustomed to sharing.  It is a love that is rooted in the very love shared among the members of the Trinity, a love that God has graciously spilled over onto us through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.

            How then should this love be expressed?  For what purposes has God ordained true fellowship among his people?  How is this fellowship tangibly experienced among the confessing community?  We return to 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13 this week to peek into the nature of Paul’s fellowship with the Thessalonian church and see how we can exercise a fellowship that resembles theirs.


 Songs this Week

  • Blessed be Your Name
  • At the Cross
  • How Deep the Father's Love for Us
  • Blest be the Tie that Binds

A Faith That Binds Together (1 Thess. 2:17-3:13)

            At the end of every communion service in my home church, we would sing:  Blest be the ties that bind/Our hearts in Christian love/The fellowship of kindred minds/Is like to that above.  In reality, though, our church was frequently plagued by division, mistrust, suspicion, and judgmental attitudes.  The fellowship of our kindred minds was nothing like that above.  Why could we not just get along?

            In my experience with the church now for four decades, it seems that the condition of my home church is all too familiar in many churches across our land.  Instead of being marked by sacrificial love, mutual concern, and honest encouragement, we are characterized to often by our own interests and place our own concerns above those of others.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13, Paul connects the gospel-shaped faith of the follower of Christ with the genuine expression of true Christian fellowship among believers in the body of Christ.  We see something of the nature of true Christian fellowship in the relationship between Paul and the Thessalonian church, a fellowship emerging from an intense longing for one another and seeking greater sanctification in the lives of one another.

A Faith That Endures Hardship, Part 3 (1 Thess. 2:1-16)

            For the last two weeks, we have been studying as part of our sermon series through 1 Thessalonians about the reality of hardship and affliction in the Christian life.  Paul had suffered great tribulation in Thessalonika and other cities of the Greek world when he proclaimed a radical, confrontational gospel to idol-worshiping, hedonism-loving pagans.  Such persecution was part and parcel of the Christian life.  As the Jews had tormented the prophets God had sent to warn them of their apostasy and as they had ultimately afflicted his Messiah Jesus by nailing him to a cross, Paul now stood in line to receive the same hardship.  Such hardship was not isolated to Paul but was now the destiny of the Thessalonians as recipients of God’s grace and the apostle’s ministry.

            We understand that we are caught up in a spiritual battle where suffering is the expectation for the Christian.  We understand that we are to endure, to be faithful, to keep on keeping on even in the midst of great turmoil.  But how?  Paul gives us sage counsel in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 on how to endure hardship with faithfulness.

A Faith That Brings Hardship, Part 2 (1 Thess. 2:1-16)

            Not all hardship is bad.  The discomfort of pregnancy and the travail of childbirth bring forth a precious little baby.  The soreness and injury experienced by athletes bring the necessary skill and strategy to win championships.  The pain of surgery provides a comforting sign that healing is taking place.  In these cases, and so many others, trials and suffering, though very painful, are actually indicators of the good taking place in our lives.

            The same is true in the Christian life.  From the world’s perspective, suffering appears to be the work of the devil, not God.  After all, the Father blesses, not harms, his children.  God, absolutely holy, pure, and good, does nothing evil toward those who love him.  And yet, the revelation of the New Testament teaches that God has ordained hardship to be the lot of the Christian, not for our evil, but for our ultimate good.  Today we will continue a message we started last week from 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 on suffering in the Christian life.  Our faith in God and Christ is certain to bring suffering into our lives, a suffering that we are called to endure.

 


Songs this Week

 Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise

Approach my Soul the Mercy Seat 

Lord Let your Glory Fall 

This is My Father's World 

Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus