Learn What it Means to be a Witness | 07
AUTHOR: Holy Scripture
As we continue to study the timeless words of the apostle Paul in Romans, the profound message of rescue, redemption, and restoration comes alive. Paul also embodied the last words of Jesus to the disciples “…and you will be my witnesses….”
Men and women of the Bible can serve as our mentors and guides as we learn to be effective witnesses.
Read or listen to Acts 16:16-34.
Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She made a large profit for her owners by fortune-telling. As she followed Paul and us she cried out, “These men, who are proclaiming to you a way of salvation, are the servants of the Most High God.” She did this for many days.
Paul was greatly annoyed. Turning to the spirit, he said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out right away.
When her owners realized that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had severely flogged them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to guard them carefully. Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because we’re all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. He escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house. He took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds. Right away he and all his family were baptized. He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had come to believe in God with his entire household.
What was the content of Paul and Silas’ message to the jailer? What circumstances afforded them the opportunity to share this message?
The written Scripture is CSB, however, the audio Scripture is ESV.
Read the blog below. What does it teach about being a witness?
Witness and Family: A Legacy of Faith
By Nydiaris Hernández-Santos
I vividly remember December 2015. At the time, I worked at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and mami had come all the way from Puerto Rico to visit me. The morning after she arrived, we enjoyed a quiet breakfast at home and, after a while, she said, “Voy a orar” (I am going to pray). I had received my marching orders; it was time to pray! She took over the living room and I went to my bedroom. The walls of my one bedroom apartment were thin, so I could “eavesdrop” on mami’s prayers. What a gift! It was not long before she was deep in fervent prayer. Simultaneously, I was in my room worshiping God and thanking him for the amazing legacy of faith that had been passed down to me, all the way from my bisabuela Elena, to my abuela Josefina, to my mami. Throughout most of my life, my dad had not been following Jesus, so mami carried the responsibility of instructing my brother and me in the faith on her own. While listening to mami pray, the Holy Spirit reminded me of two amazing Bible women who had a similar responsibility, Lois and Eunice, the women that raised pastor Timothy.
Witness That Leaves a Legacy
Timothy is most frequently introduced as the apostle Paul’s spiritual son and pupil, but rarely as the son of Eunice and grandson of Lois. Yet Paul feels the need to remind Timothy of the legacy of faith that these women passed down to him in 2 Timothy 1:5 which says, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” Certainly, Timothy was Paul’s spiritual son; he shared life with him and trained him for the ministry. But he was discipled first at home by the women in his life. Like mami, they bore the responsibility for his instruction in the faith on their own, given that Timothy’s dad was “a Greek,” an unbeliever. Acts 16 tells us that when Paul went to Lystra in his second missionary journey, “there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. The brothers and sisters at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him” (Acts 16:1-2).
Lois and Eunice had done something right! Timothy had grown up to be a young man of character and an example in his community. I wonder how Lois and Eunice instructed him. Did they tell him stories from the Hebrew Scriptures they heard at the synagogue? Did they teach him how to pray? I don’t know what Lois and Eunice did, but I can tell you what mami did.
When my brother and I were little, once in a while mami would organize a three-person church service at home. We sang, we read the Bible, and then…then the best part! Mami would use her tremendous gift for storytelling (even if she wouldn’t admit to it) to bring to life all the amazing biblical characters. In our little gathering, thanks to mami’s ingenuity, Queen Esther became the first Miss Universe, the lions that could never eat Daniel became so real that I thought they might eat me, and Jonah inside the big fish felt as real as a hologram. To this day, I enjoy listening to my mom talk about the Bible. A fire burns inside her!
In addition to telling us the stories of the Bible, mami taught me how to pray, a precious gift given early in my childhood that has sustained me through many valleys of sorrow and mountaintops of joy. We started to pray in the car on the way to school, then the Holy Spirit seized my heart and I wanted more and more. Little by little, five minutes turned to ten, ten minutes turned to fifteen, etc. I have had many highs and lows, but somehow God always brings me back to this beautiful space of prayer, where his arms are my home.
I realize that sometimes parents train their children to love and serve the Lord, but they end up walking away from the faith in their teens and adult years. This happened in my family; today, my brother is not following Jesus. However, mami’s witness to Jesus planted seeds that I pray will someday germinate and produce fruit. Furthermore, this is a reminder for us sons and daughters that we have a responsibility to steward the legacy of faith that our parents, whether biological or spiritual, leave for us.
Stewarding Our Legacy of Faith
That morning in my apartment, while mami was praying in the living room and I was praying in my room, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “You have been given a great legacy of faith and prayer, what are you doing to pass this legacy down?” “Lord, I don’t have any children,” I responded. Again, I sensed the gentle voice of the Spirit whisper something like, “You don’t need to have biological children to be a mother. Spiritual children! Spiritual legacy!” Just like mami had given me my marching orders after breakfast that December morning with her “Voy a orar,” the Holy Spirit gave me clear instructions on how to steward the legacy of faith, Scripture, and prayer that had been entrusted to me. I have the responsibility to be a witness to the power of prayer, to the fact that God still delivers, that he still heals, he still provides. I ought to shout from the rooftops that we are not praying to a cloud or an abstract idea, but to the God of the Bible. We pray to the One who turns water into roadways and makes mana rain from heaven, the One who opens the eyes of the blind and delivers the oppressed. He has not changed; he is still able! May the Lord grant me the opportunity to share this message with many spiritual children that would join me in the space of prayer, so we can bring our brokenness to God and watch him turn it into strength and beauty for his kingdom and the fame of his name. May I be a good steward of the legacy of faith and prayer that has been passed down to me by my abuelas, mami, and many saints whose prayers are a witness that God still resurrects things by the power of his word.
Timothy must have been a good steward of what his mom and grandma gave him. We know because Paul was convinced that the faith of Lois and Eunice dwelt in Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). There was something he saw in Timothy that was reminiscent of the way his mom and grandma walked with Jesus. How powerful the witness of these godly women! How amazing Timothy’s stewardship of such a precious legacy!
What are some family liturgies you can practice with your children in order to be a witness to them about Jesus and his work? Who are you investing in to pass down your spiritual legacy? If your upbringing in the faith, whether at home or at church, is filled with bad memories because those in the faith hurt you, who are people in your life now that you can learn from? Who are the people around you that you can invest in by passing down what you have learned in your discipleship? We have a spiritual legacy that we must steward responsibly through witness.
Lord, grant me the boldness to share Christ with my family. Save the members of my family who do not yet confess Jesus as Lord.
Week 7 of 8 Witness
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