Spiritual Warfare

The Kingdom of God

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Jesus talked a lot about God’s “Kingdom.” Over 100 times in the gospels He mentions it, trying to explain it to people whose minds were stuck on a physical kingdom. God’s kingdom isn’t a place, it’s a state of being, where He’s the boss.

1. Read

Luke 17:20-21 [MSG] “Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, ‘The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”

What the pharisees couldn’t understand was that you don’t enter God’s kingdom by being born somewhere, or traveling somewhere, or waiting for some new political leader. You enter it by submitting to God’s leadership – serving Him as King.

  • Before this week’s lesson, did you think of the “Kingdom of God” as a place (like heaven), or a state of being?
  • Are there people you know who believe in God, but don’t submit to His leadership?
  • Are they in the kingdom, or not?

2. Challenge

Matthew 13:47-50 [NLT] “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Kingdom citizenship is required to enter heaven. We have to show people the way, so they don’t wind up in that fiery furnace!

  • Who are the people in your life who need to enter God’s kingdom? Make a to-do list for this week: what can you do to point them toward Him?

3. Prayer Focus

Take some time to reaffirm your submission to God’s leadership. Ask the Holy Spirit to use your life as an inspiration to spiritually lost people around you, pointing them to Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Buried Treasure

1. Power Verse

Matthew 6:21 “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

What’s Up: “I’m Gonna Store Up Treasure In Heaven!”

This week, we finish our series called, “Living Large.” In this series, we’ve been learning how to handle our money and possessions God’s way.

2. Read

2 Corinthians 8:1-4 “Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given to the churches in Macedonia.  They have suffered a great deal. But in their suffering, their joy was more than full. Even though they were very poor, they gave very freely.  I tell you that they gave as much as they could. In fact, they gave even more than they could. Completely on their own, they begged us for the chance to share in serving the Lord’s people in that way.”

3. Discussion

  • Why do you think the Macedonian churches wanted so badly to give?
  • How is it possible to give beyond your ability?
  • What does it mean to sacrifice?
  • Have you and your family given sacrificially in the past? If so, how did you feel about it?

Talk to your kids honestly about some of the ways you sacrifice for them, particularly how you sometimes give up things you want or need so that they can have things they want or need. Tell them that you willingly give up these things because you love them and it brings you joy to be able to give to them.

Then tell your kids that this week, as a family, you’re going to practice intentional sacrifice—you’re going to give up something your family wants or needs and give that item or the money you would have used to buy that item to someone else. Brainstorm for a few minutes to think of things your family enjoys or uses frequently. A few suggestions are certain foods, renting movies, eating out, etc.

Then discuss what you want to do with the money you saved. Do you want to buy some groceries or a gift card to a restaurant for another family, put gas in someone else’s car, or put the money in the offering at church? Whatever you decide to do, do it together as a family. Even if you can afford it, don’t buy the item for yourself—go the entire week without it.

4. Prayer Focus

Thank God for not only supplying everything you need, but for giving you the chance to supply someone else with what they need.

Powerful Prayer

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Let’s be honest – sometimes prayer feels like a joy and sometimes it feels like a chore. Sometimes it seems fresh and inspired; other times, it’s as mindless as reciting the pledge of allegiance to open school. When we think about the reality of hell though, our prayer life should become focused, urgent and Spirit-led.

1. Read

Jude 20:21 [ESV] “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”

In order to be a beacon of light to point others to God’s salvation, your spirit and body need to be aligned with God. That happens when you pray.

  • When Jude says “praying in the Holy Spirit,” do you think he means speaking in unknown languages, or having your known-language prayer directed by the Spirit? Or is it both?
  • What are a few places in your life where your spirit and human nature get out of alignment with God’s way? Give some examples of how your effectiveness as a witness would be different with more spiritual strength in those areas.

2. Challenge

2 Corinthians 10:4 [NASB95] “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

We’re not fighting physical fortresses, but strongholds in the minds of the spiritually lost that make it hard for them to receive the good news of salvation. They’re called “fortresses” for a reason – they won’t go down with half-hearted, lip-service prayer. If we intend to do battle, we need to pray like warriors!

  • What are some examples of spiritual fortresses in the minds of the spiritually lost around you?
  • Think of the most firmly-entrenched Republican or Democrat you know. Could their political views be changed by a social media post? How about a well thought-out, persuasive argument? Probably not. Now, imagine that level of mental fortress in a spiritually lost person in your life. How should that shape your prayers for them? What specifically should you ask God to do?

3. Prayer Focus

Take some time to ask God fervently to align your spirit with His, and to tear down spiritual fortresses in the minds of the spiritually lost people in your life. Be specific, use their names, pray in the Spirit, and don’t be in a hurry!


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Are You Smarter Than An Ant?

1. Power Verse

Matthew 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

What’s Up: “My Money Is God’s Money, So I Will Use It WELL!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Living Large”. In this series, we are learning how to handle our money and possessions God’s way.

2. Discussion

I want you to imagine that the local bank is giving out $100 bills to everyone wearing a ball cap who shows up at the bank on Monday at noon.

  • What would happen if you showed up on Sunday instead of Monday?
  • What would happen if you showed up at the right time, but didn’t have on a ball cap?
  • What would happen if you showed up at the right time wearing a cowboy hat?
  • What if you got really excited about what the bank was doing and told everybody you knew about it, but forgot to go to the bank yourself?
  • Whose fault would it be if you didn’t get the $100?

3. Read

Malachi 3:8-10 “Will a mere human being dare to steal from God? But you rob me! “You ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “By holding back your offerings. You also steal from me when you do not bring me a tenth of everything you produce. So you are under my curse. In fact, your whole nation is under my curse. That is because you are robbing me. Bring the entire tenth to the storerooms in my temple. Then there will be plenty of food. Test me this way,” says the Lord. “Then you will see that I will throw open the windows of heaven. I will pour out so many blessings that you will not have enough room to store them.”

  • What does God expect us to do with the money we receive?
  • How much do we pay when we tithe? For example, if you had $10, how much would you tithe on it?
  • Why do you think God asks us to tithe? Does He need the money?

4. Prayer Focus

God asks us to tithe, so we learn to trust Him instead of our money. When we obey Him by tithing, we position ourselves to be blessed in the future. Spend time thanking God for the money He’s given to you and your children and asking Him to help you trust Him enough to always pay your tithe.

Empowered by the Spirit- Part 6

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The Holy Spirit grants a lot of different abilities to believers to accomplish His mission – from knowledge, to healing, to discernment – but it all starts with infilling, when the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer in power.

Acts 1:8 [ESV] “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…”

God can give any ability to anyone He chooses at any time, but the example we see in scripture is that the abilities of His Spirit flow freely once a believer has been filled with, or baptized in, the Holy Spirit. If you want the abilities, you need to be filled!

Q . Speaking in unknown languages is the first noticeable sign that a person has been filled. If you’ve been Spirit-filled, what was your experience like speaking in unknown languages for the first time? How would you describe it to someone who had never been around it?

Q . If you haven’t experienced Holy Spirit infilling yet, describe your thoughts or ideas about speaking in unknown languages. Does that idea confuse or intimidate you? What would prevent you from asking God to fill you, right here, right now?

2. Challenge

Acts 2:16-17 [NLT] “No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.’”

Spirit-empowerment is such a big deal, God wants every believer to experience it. That means you, too!

Q . If empowerment is so vital, why doesn’t every believer speak in unknown languages and operate in the special abilities of the Spirit? Is the breakdown on God’s end, or ours?

Q . In what ways has your experience with or understanding of the Holy Spirit changed during this series? What are some ways you’ve grown in that area? How can you share those experiences and new understanding with others?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the empowerment that comes with the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to fill and energize you to be effective accomplishing the mission He’s given you.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Give Thanks

1. Power Verse

1 Chronicles 16:8 “Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness…”

What’s Up: “I Will Be Thankful Every Single Day!”

Jesus asked many questions, and from those questions and His teachings we can learn about how to live our lives. This week’s lesson is important to help us live a life of gratitude!

2. Read

Luke 17: 11-19 “Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. He traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men met him. They had a skin disease. They were standing close by. And they called out in a loud voice, “Jesus! Master! Have pity on us!” Jesus saw them and said, “Go. Show yourselves to the priests.” While they were on the way, they were healed. When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back. He praised God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Weren’t all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Didn’t anyone else return and give praise to God except this outsider?” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Q. What was wrong with the men who stopped to meet Jesus? What did they want from Jesus?

Q. How many came back to thank Jesus?

Q. What was Jesus’ response?

3. Discussion

Ten men came to Jesus that day. Ten men had leprosy. Even though all ten men were healed, only one of them came back to thank Him. Can you believe that? How could only one person come to thank Jesus for what He had done? 

Q. Have you ever had something amazing happen in your life that you forgot to thank Jesus for?

Q. Why do you think it is so easy for us to forget to take the time to thank Him? (we get busy, we forget Jesus is the source of everything, etc)

Q. What can we do to help remember to thank Jesus for everything we receive?

4. Prayer Focus

Spend time as a family listing, making a chart, or coming up with a fun way to demonstrate all the things you are grateful for that God has given you. When you are finished, pray together and thank Him for all He has done for you!

Empowered by the Spirit- Part 5

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God wants us to be effective witnesses – representatives of who Jesus is to the spiritually lost in our world. In order to accomplish that goal, the Holy Spirit empowers believers with special abilities, including the gifts of discernment and speaking / interpreting unknown languages.

1 John 4:1 [NLT] “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.”

The spiritual gift of discernment enables you to identify the spirit behind a person or group, to tell whether a prophecy is legitimate or not, or to have insight into the spiritual realities of a situation.

Q . Have you ever fallen for an email scam or a similar hoax? If so, what were the repercussions? (if not, what do you imagine they would be?)

Q . What are some sources in our world of incorrect teaching about God?

Q . How might the gift of discernment make you more effective as a witness?

2. Challenge

1 Corinthians 14:5 [ESV] “Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.”

The spiritual gift of “tongues,” or, speaking in an unknown language, is one that seems to be mostly for personal prayer time, but it can also be beneficial to others -when it’s interpreted.

Q . When did you first encounter people speaking in unknown languages? What was your impression at the time? Is that different from your impression now?

Q . What are some ways that speaking in unknown languages could help you be a better witness, or point the spiritually lost toward God?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the spiritual abilities to discern spirits and speak in unknown languages. If you’ve received the ability to, take a little time to pray in the Spirit using unknown languages.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

God’s Response To Failure

1. Power Verse

1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

What’s Up: “When I Fail, I Can See God Always Comes Looking For Me!”

This week, we continue the series called, “The Garden”. In this series, we will look at the four characters involved in the first sin in the Garden of Eden: Satan, Adam, Eve, and God. 

In this lesson, we learn just how much our Heavenly Father loves us.

2. Read

Q. Who are people you love? (i.e. family, friends, etc.) Have you ever gotten mad at someone you love?

Q. Ever wonder how God feels when we sin? Does He get angry? Does He plot revenge? Does He say,“I told you so?” 

So many people have the idea in their mind that God is sitting in Heaven with one hand on the “zapper” and one foot raised in the air just waiting to STOMP on us when we sin.

Genesis 3:8-11 Then the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking in the garden. It was during the coolest time of the day. They hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called out to the man. “Where are you?” he asked. “I heard you in the garden,” the man answered. “I was afraid, because I was naked. So I hid.” The Lord God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten fruit from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?”

3. Discussion

Through the story of Adam and Eve, we see God’s heart and how He really responds when we fail Him. When we run from Him, He comes looking for us and gives us a chance to make it right.

John 3:16 “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.”

Q. Have you ever been afraid of what God thought when you messed up?

Q. What do you do when you mess up? What should you do when you mess up? 

4. Prayer Focus

Give your child a chance to “make it right” with God. Let them know that when they mess up, God comes to them and gives them a chance to be forgiven – all they have to do is ask.

Empowered by the Spirit- Part 4

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The Holy Spirit has special abilities He gives to us, which help us to be better witnesses in our world. Two of those abilities, miracles and prophecy, are often misunderstood. The truth is, they’re vital, real-world practical functions of God’s work in our lives today.

1 Corinthians 12:10a [NLT] “He gives one person the power to perform miracles…”

When people think of “performing miracles,” they often imagine parting the Red Sea or calling down fire from heaven. The truth is, a “miracle” is any time God’s power intervenes to change how a situation plays out. Through the Holy Spirit’s enablement, God wants to use us to pray situation-changing prayers that address real needs in the world around us.

Q . What is the most memorable or spectacular miracle you remember from the Bible?

Q . What’s a need that you’ve encountered where you’ve asked God to get involved and change something?

Q . What are the differences between those 2 examples? What are the similarities?

2. Challenge

1 Corinthians 12:10 [NLT] “He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy.”

We often think of “prophecy” as telling the future, but this spiritual ability is much broader than that. A “prophet” is anyone who speaks God’s words under His inspiration.

Q . Has anyone ever come to you with a message they felt like God asked them to share? Was it relevant to your life at the time?

Q . What are some types of things God may want to say to people around you? How often is there a need in your world for the Spiritual ability to prophesy?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for answering prayers with His power, and for speaking to you through various sources. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to notice and obey when He prompts you to function in a special ability.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

No Fear

1. Power Verse

Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you…”

What’s Up: “I Don’t Have To Be Afraid, I’ll Put My Trust In God!”

With God on our side, we should never be afraid! Kids have a lot of things that they may fear. It’s important at an early age, we help them learn that with God, there is nothing that is too big for us to face. With Him by our side, we can face anything!

2. Read

Ask your children to list some of the things they are scared or afraid of together.

Q.  What do you think Jesus says about fear? Jesus has a lot to say about fear, and we are actually talking about that today! We are going to learn from a familiar story in the Bible of how Jesus reacts to our fears.

Matthew 8:23-27 “Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him. Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up. They said, “Lord! Save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “Your faith is so small! Why are you so afraid?” Then Jesus got up and ordered the winds and the waves to stop. It became completely calm. The disciples were amazed. They asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

3. Discussion

Q. What was Jesus’ response to the storm?

Q. Why do you think the storm didn’t scare Jesus?

Just like the storm didn’t scare or intimidate Jesus, our fears and problems don’t scare Him either. Jesus is never afraid. He can help us not be scared, too! We just have to trust Him!

Take time working with each of your children coming up with a plan of how they can face their fear they mentioned earlier in our devotion. 

Q. What scriptures could they quote that would help them? What could they pray to help calm them? 

4. Prayer Focus

Pray together after you have finished writing or drawing out your plan.

Empowered by the Spirit- Part 3

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The Holy Spirit has special abilities He gives to us, which help us to be better witnesses in our world. For some, those abilities are gifts of faith and of healing.

Hebrews 11:6 [ESV] “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Many times we think of having faith in God’s power – what he can do, but the gift of faith can also empower us to believe in God’s character – what He wants to do in our lives and in our world.

Q . Think of someone in your life who has great faith. When you’re around this person, what happens to your own faith? 

Q. Is it strengthened? Are you challenged to grow?

Q . What’s a way God could use great faith in your life to inspire faith in others? 

2. Challenge

Isaiah 53:5 [NLT] “But he (Jesus) was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”

God doesn’t heal people just to show off. Healing is an extension of God’s mercy – a God who cares about our suffering. The gift of healing empowers Christians to not only change the outcome of ailments, but to express God’s mercy and compassion.

Q . Has God’s ability to heal changed since the records in the Bible? Has His character or willingness to heal changed? If not, why do you think many have a hard time believing God still heals people?

Q . Have you ever been sick or suffering, and felt like God didn’t care, or that people didn’t care? How would praying for someone to receive healing change that feeling in others?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for equipping His church (including you!) with the abilities needed to change the world. Ask the Holy Spirit to develop the abilities in you that He wants to express in your world.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

How To Handle Temptation

1. Power Verse

James 4:7 “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

What’s Up:  I May Be Tempted, But I Won’t Give In!

This week, we continue the series called, “The Garden”. In this series, we will look at the four characters involved in the first sin in the Garden of Eden: Satan, Adam, Eve, and God. In this lesson, we learn how to handle the temptation in our lives.

2. Read

Genesis 3:1-6 The serpent was more clever than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. The serpent said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. But God did say, ‘You must not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. Do not even touch it. If you do, you will die.’ ”

“You will certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “God knows that when you eat fruit from that tree, you will know things you have never known before. Like God, you will be able to tell the difference between good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree’s fruit was good to eat and pleasing to look at. She also saw that it would make a person wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her. And he ate it.

3. Discussion

Q. What did you notice about Eve in the story?

Eve made a huge mistake, but it wasn’t just an isolated incident. There were several mistakes she made that added up to the ultimate mistake of the original sin. Like Eve, we are all tempted, but we don’t have to give into that temptation. The only way we can handle the pressure is to recognize that rarely is sin an act of the moment. We must learn from Eve that there are other mistakes made that lead to our sin. First, we can’t listen to Satan’s lies. Instead we must trust God’s plan. Second, we can’t hang around when temptation comes. We must run away from the temptation in our lives. Lastly, we must not follow the crowd. We must do what’s right.

Q. Have you ever made a mistake that eventually lead to sin? (i.e. listening to Satan’s lies, hanging around temptation, following the crowd) 

4. Prayer Focus

Allow your child time to confess their sins to God. Then pray with them that God will help them follow the three steps in the plan to defeat temptation.

Empowered by the Spirit- Part 2

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When the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses, He also gives us special abilities that are beyond our natural skills and talents. At first blush, this might seem outlandish or kooky, but in reality, these abilities are functional, highly useful tools for the mission we’ve been entrusted with.

1 Corinthians 12:7-8 [NLT] “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice…”

This Holy Spirit ability is beyond normal human wisdom – it’s God-empowered insight into a situation, which shows someone the answer to a problem, or the best course of action to take.

Q . Has anyone ever given you wise advice or a problem-solving insight? Think of a specific example. How did that advice make your life better? Did it make you more or less likely to trust that person’s words and intentions?

Q . Have you ever had an “aha!” moment, when the right course of action, or words, or answer suddenly came to you? Have you ever received that type of breakthrough for someone else’s problem?

2. Challenge

1 Corinthians 12:8 [NLT] “…to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.”

The second gift Paul mentions is special knowledge – when the Holy Spirit reveals information to someone that they could not have known otherwise.

Q . God will sometimes reveal information to someone as a warning, or encouragement to be given, or a specific thing to pray about. How is that different from a psychic or mind-reader?

Q . Has anyone ever spoken one of these “words of knowledge” to you? How did it make you feel? How did it affect your life in that situation?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the special abilities He gives through the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. Ask Him to help you grow in the ability that He’s entrusted to you.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

The World’s Most Expensive Fruit

1. Power Verse

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What’s Up:  “Sin Costs A High Price!”

This week, we continue the series called, “The Garden”. In this series, we will look at the four characters involved in the first sin in the Garden of Eden: Satan, Adam, Eve, and God. In this lesson, we learn about the HIGH price of giving in to temptation. It’s a price that is NEVER worth it.

2. Read

Genesis 3:6-23“The woman saw that the tree’s fruit was good to eat and pleasing to look at. She also saw that it would make a person wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her. And he ate it. The Lord God said to Adam, “You listened to your wife’s suggestion. You ate fruit from the tree I warned you about. I said, ‘You must not eat its fruit.’ “So I am putting a curse on the ground because of what you did. All the days of your life you will have to work hard. It will be painful for you to get food from the ground. You will eat plants from the field, even though the ground produces thorns and prickly weeds. You will have to work hard and sweat a lot to produce the food you eat. You were made out of the ground. You will return to it when you die. You are dust, and you will return to dust.” So the Lord God drove the man out of the Garden of Eden. He sent the man to farm the ground he had been made from.”

3. Discussion

Q. What was the price Adam and Eve paid for their sin in the Garden?

Adam gave in to temptation, just as Eve did. They knew better, but they did it anyway. As a result, they paid the price for it. They were separated from God, thrown out of the garden, and forced to work a life of blood, sweat, and tears.

So often, we think that we can just “go ahead and sin” and it won’t matter. After all, it’s just one sin. Can that really be that big of a deal?

The truth is, all it takes is ONE sin for us to have to pay the ultimate price of separation from God forever. It was true for Adam and Eve, and it is true for us.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray with your child if they feel that they have been paying the high price of giving into temptation. Pray that God will help them realize the price of sin and work to never give into temptation.