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Equipped to Witness
by Judy Webb
Acts 1:1-8 NLT
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth." (Bold emphasis by writer.)
Often, when I read scripture, a sentence or grouping of words will seem to jump off the page and stick to my heart. The bold words above did that today. I checked a number of popular versions of the Bible and only half of them contained these words. The versions that did not, implied them, but didn’t boldly state them. Seeing as this is our Great Commission (Matthew 28:19), I chose to concentrate on these words this morning.
Jesus had instructed His followers to wait for the Holy Spirit before they went anywhere, but that once the Holy Spirit Power was upon them, they must go, and tell all the world. They (and we) are commanded to tell the story of Jesus; the first-hand account they all experienced and then to tell the personal account. Jesus lived and worked among these folks for three years and they learned about right and wrong, about love and forgiveness corporately. But each one of them also had a personal story to tell. And don’t we all?
It is that personal story, (our testimony of how God has changed us, healed us, loved, and has forgiven us) that is so important to tell. It is interesting how Jesus was specific to say, “to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” The significance of these four destinations is important. Jerusalem: where Jesus was crucified; Judea: a strong Jewish population; Samaria: the center of Palestine; the ends of the earth: Gentile population. This mandate to witness is the theme of the whole book of Acts.
So, what about our stories? How do we tell people everywhere about Jesus? As the song goes, “they will know we are Christian by our love.” It is love that will prompt some to ask us what makes us different. During the times we live in now, our love for one another will stand out, will be very obvious. It is the perfect opportunity to be that witness.
Read today’s passage through once. Then spend some time praying and asking God to show you what you need to pay attention to in the text. Read it again. Now ask God to help you see what this text, and the part that has stood out, may mean for you. Practice sharing your story so when asked, you are ready to give the reason for your hope.