Gaining Vision: Whom shall we place first? April 26, 2015

Isaiah 58 Matthew 25:31-46

(Gladeville opening)
Sometime between 1787 and 1816, Bishop Francis Asbury traveled through this part of Virginia. We know that he made stops near present-day Radford, Bridle Creek, and the Yadkin River valley. At some point in those 29 years, Bishop Asbury may have rode through and preached in the vicinity of Bonaparte. If you read about this in Bishop Asbury’s journal, then do let me know. For I would be much appreciative.

Somehow, someway Asbury’s name was brought to Grayson County. Asbury Methodist Church has a history that is known back till 1865. And from that church came Gladeville Methodist Church in 1879.

From Lonzo Taylor’s history of Gladeville, we read on page 6:
“Gladeville is a very active church were people work together and great evangelistic revivals have been held there with many people coming to Christ. The greatest revival this writer can remember was in May 1950. The Rev. Wiley Neal and Rev. Richard Hamblin held a revival at Gladeville with 19 accepting Christ and being baptized, along with several others who rededicated their lives. Prior to this revival cottage prayer meeting(s) were held each day in different homes.”

It seems that this church has a history of finding a way to make sure that the first place in life went to God. It also seems that this church has a history of making sure that the first place in life was made available to other people. As we are seeking a vision from God, we are asking: Whom shall we, in this date and time, place first?

(Mt. Olivet opening)
In the spring of 1924 the first building of Mt. Olivet Methodist Church was dedicated. George Jones, Roby Bedsaul, Martin Bedsaul, and Troy Jones were acclaimed as being mainly responsible for that new building. A few years before 1924 there were cottage prayer meetings happening in the Cranberry section of Carroll County. These were Christians who were gathering together to find a way to spread the word about Jesus Christ. When these Christians gathered as a congregation, they became Mt. Olivet Methodist Church.

In the 1960’s the Galax First Methodist Church provided valuable spiritual and financial backing to assist this church to move to this location. The Wytheville District and the Holston Conference also provided support to this church to move to this church to this location.

Along the way there have been many prayer meetings, which became “Prayer and Share” groups. From these groups this church grew in numbers and in grew in faith. It seems that this church has a history of making sure that the first place in life was made available to other people. As we are seeking a vision from God, we are asking: Whom shall we, in this date and time, place first?

There are two voices in the Bible that help us to hear whom we shall place first. From Isaiah we hear a prophetic voice that helps us see what we place first. From the Gospel of Matthew we hear a royal voice that helps us see what we place first.

A. What does the prophetic voice tell us? (Isaiah 58)
+++1. We have rebelled against God
+++2. We try to seek God by spiritual disciplines (fasting), but it doesn’t help us
+++3. But what sort of fast are we to do?
+++4. When we do this type of fast, things change!
+++5. Later in Isaiah 59, we find out that we repent of our sin!
+++6. It looks like we place God first. We place God first by helping the oppressed, the hungry, the homeless, and the naked. And God gives us a restored life! But one witness, as the Bible says, is not enough. We need another witness to convince us of what we place first in our life as a church.

B. What does the royal voice tell us? (Matthew 25:31-46)
+++1. The Son of Man is coming
+++2. He is going to be judging all people
+++3. Those who help the hungry, the thirsty, welcomes the stranger, clothes the naked, and visit those sick and in prison will enter into the kingdom prepared for them.
+++4. Those who do not help the hungry, the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, or visit those sick or in prison will not enter the kingdom. Instead those who do not help will be thrown the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
+++5. How do we know when we have helped the people the Son of Man says we can help?
+++6. It is when we help the least of these, that we help Jesus!
+++7. As a church, we can respond to the needs of the least. The Son of Man, Jesus himself, is watching to see whether we are responding to the needs of the least. With the history of this church, we can see how this has happened before. To be prepared for the kingdom that God has for us, we can respond to the needs of the least.

The prophetic voice tells us that we have not received God’s blessings because we have not helped those who cannot help themselves. This prophetic voice of Isaiah also says that we need not satisfy our desires on the Sabbath. The royal voice tells us that we will only enter the kingdom that God has prepared for us by helping the least of these. For when we serve the least of these, we are serving Jesus.

As these two voices give witness to the good we can expect, we hear one message. That message is that once we repent of our selfish, self-centered ways, we live a life that shows whom comes first. For a certainty, the one whom comes first is not ourselves. But it is the Lord God who comes first.

So what does this mean for us? We repent of our ways. We stop going through the motions with our faith. We start living our faith in God. This is shown by making sure the hungry are fed, the oppressed are set free, the thirsty are satisfied, the homeless are sheltered, and the sick and those in prison know that they are not alone. Otherwise, there is no future for this church, or any church.

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2 thoughts on “Gaining Vision: Whom shall we place first? April 26, 2015

  1. Hello, John. Here is a link to a Virginia historical marker. You may already know about it. http://www.markerhistory.com/pages-meeting-house-marker-k-45/. In addition, a map of Asbury’s visits to Virginia, (In his three-volume journal and letters) shows that he visited two places in Pulaski Country, Newbern and Sigler Ford. Sigler Ford may be an outdated name or connected to the Sigler family. If you like reading about Asbury, I am releasing this week the opening book to my trilogy on Asbury. You can see what it is all about at http://www.francisasburytriptych.com. The opening book, Black Country, is detailing Asbury’s early circuits in England before coming to the American colonies. This has never been attempted before. The opening book also details the early Wesleyan movement in England, featuring men like John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield. I’ve spent nearly 20 years studying Francis Asbury. In 1998, there was interest in my take of Asbury’s story for network television. I have written the trilogy in novel form. It is my hope that the book will revive interest in the story for television once again. I will see if I can dig up more on Francis Asbury’s time in Pulaski Country. Have fun.

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    • Thank you for informing me about your book. I will have to check it out. Actually I am quite familiar with the Page’s Meeting House Marker. I actually officiated a wedding at the meeting house within the past 10-12 years! What I am interested in discovering is the time that Asbury was in what is present-day Galax. I know that he was in Bridle Creek, VA (west of Independence).
      The information that I have about the Gladeville/Asbury history is that there was a log building with clay for mortis. In this building, which stood on the present location of the Galax Country Club on Country Club Drive, the Christians used “tallow candles” to light the building for worship and prayer services. The history of Gladeville states that it started in 1879, though the church members come from the Asbury Methodist Church, which has a history that is recorded back to 1865.

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