Category Archives: Spiritual Health

Joseph’s Journey


For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”

Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!

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Priorities – Mary vs. Martha (DEVOTION)


Read the following Scriptures, and discuss the questions below as a table group.

  • Luke 10:38-42
  • John 11:1-3, 17-44
  • John 12:1-8
  1. Compare and contrast the two sisters.
  2. What is Mary doing that is similar in each of these Scriptures?
  3. What is Martha doing that is similar in each of these Scriptures?
  4. Why do you think Jesus said that Mary’s choice was better in the passage from Luke?
  5. How are you sometimes like Martha?
  6. What is the danger of living our lives like Martha all the time?
  7. What is the best combination of Mary-type priorities and Martha-type priorities for your life?

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Weakness (DEVOTION)


As a group, read the following Scriptures, and then discuss the questions below.

  • Psalm 10:2 (the wicked man hunts down the weak)
  • Psalm 41:1-3 (blessed are those who have regard for the weak)
  • Isaiah 40:29-31 (He increases the power of the weak)
  • Ezekiel 34:16 (I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak)
  • Acts 20:35 (we must help the weak)
  • Romans 8:26 (the Spirit helps us in our weakness)
  • Romans 14:1-4 (accept the one whose faith is weak)
  • Romans 15:1 (bear with the failings of the weak)
  • 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (God chose the weak things to shame the strong)
  • 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (to the weak, I became weak)
  • 1 Corinthians 12:21-26 (the weaker parts of the body are indispensable)
  • 2 Corinthians 11:30 (I will boast of the things that show my weakness)
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (for when I am weak, then I am strong)
  • Hebrews 5:1-3 (the high priest is subject to weakness)
  1. How does God feel about weakness?
  2. How is this different from how the world often feels about and acts toward weakness?
  3. How are we called to respond to weakness?
  4. How do these Scriptures relate to the weaknesses people have in regard to the work that they do and the relationships that they are in?
  5. Do you think God wants us to fix our weaknesses?  Why or why not?

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Tapped In (OBJ LESSON)


Time

15-20 minutes
Description

This object lesson teaches that you need to stay connected to Jesus in order to have the power to live a godly life and produce the fruit of the Spirit.

Scriptures

  • John 7:37-39, 15:1-5
  • Galatians 5:22

Materials

  • Garden hose (long enough to reach your teaching area from the water spigot
  • Short garden hose (a hose reel leader hose works well)
  • Two quick connect adapters for the hose – need to have an automatic stopper so that the water doesn’t continue to flow after you disconnect it
  • Water nozzle (as small as you can find so that you can use it to fill water balloons)
  • Water supply that you can hook the hose to
  • Nine large balloons (purple is the best color for the lesson if you can find it – you may want to have extra balloons in case any pop or have a leak)
  • Posterboard – one sheet of any light color or white
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Permanent marker to label nine, small signs with the name of the nine fruits of the Spirit
  • Lanyard or twine
  • Clear, plastic tub to hold the balloons as they fill with water
  • Thin piece of plywood or piece of plastic or metal (4 ft long) with nine 3/4 in holes drilled in it about 5 inches apart and 5 inches from the end of either side of the board.  (You can often find a piece of metal that has pre-drilled holes in it that will work just fine near the shelving part of your local hardware store.)
  • Drill and ¾ inch drillbit (if you need to make the board mentioned above)
  • Nine, large washers with a ½ inch hold in the center (the washers must be big enough that they won’t fall out of the balloon once you put them in the opening)
  • Bible

Preparation

  • (SEE DIAGRAMS AT END OF LESSON)
  • Connect the hose to the water spigot.
  • Connect the quick connect adapter (the one with the automatic stopper) to the end of the hose, and turn on the water.  Use a steady stream of water but not full force – maybe about 1/4-1/2 turn.
  • Connect the short hose to the quick connect adapter at the end of the longer hose.
  • Connect the other quick connect adapter to the end of the short hose, and screw on the water nozzle.
  • Run the hose segments and the nozzle into the teaching area.
  • Make a large sign that says, “DISOBEDIENCE,” and put it on the lanyard/twine so that someone can wear it around their neck.
  • Ask a volunteer to be your “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer and to be ready when you call them.  Give him/her the sign to wear when the time is right.
  • Put a washer in the opening of each balloon.
  • Push each balloon through one of the nine holes in your board.  The opening of the balloon and the washer should be on top of the hole with the rest of the balloon below the board.
  • Put the board with the balloons across the clear, plastic tub so that the balloons hang down into the tub.
  • Cut out nine, small rectangles from the posterboard (each about 4 in long and 2 in tall).
  • Write the nine fruits of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control) on these.
  • Tape the signs to the bottom of the tub on the outside, facing the audience.  Each sign should be in front of a different balloon.
  • Practice

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “I’m going to show you why it is so important for you to stay close to God.”
  • “The night before Jesus was crucified, he said something very important to his closest disciples.”  (Have volunteer read John 15:1-5.)
  • “Jesus was making a comparison between His relationship with His disciples and a grapevine.”
  • “Jesus said that He is the grapevine.  That’s the thickest part of the plant that is rooted to the ground.”
  • “He said that the disciples are branches and that the branches hold the fruit.”
  • “We know from Galatians 5:22 that the fruit that Jesus is talking about is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (If the kids are not familiar with the fruit of the Spirit, you might want to take a moment to describe each one for them.)
  • “And He says that if we (as the branches) don’t stay connect to Him (the vine), we won’t have any of this fruit.”
  • “But….if we stay connected to Jesus, we will have LOTS of fruit.”  (Ask for a volunteer to come to the front, and allow him/her to help you in the following demonstration.)
  • “I don’t have a grapevine here today, and even if I did, we don’t have an entire season to watch the grapes grow on the vine.”
  • “So, instead of using a real grapevine, I’m going to use this hose, this nozzle and these balloons to demonstrate what Jesus is talking about.”  (Ask volunteer to hold the nozzle at the end of the hose.)
  • “Imagine that this hose represents Jesus as the vine.”
  • “Through Him comes a steady flow of living water, which the Bible tells us is the Holy Spirit according to John 7:39.”  (Turn on the nozzle (if it isn’t already) and have the volunteer point it into the tub.  Have another volunteer read John 7:37-39.)
  • “This nozzle represents us as the branches, and these nine balloons represent the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  They are like the grapes on the vine.”
  • “Now, the goal is to produce fruit and lots of it.”
  • “We produce fruit by filling the balloons with the water.  This is like the Holy Spirit flowing through us (the nozzle) to do the good works that the fruit represents.”  (Allow your volunteer to begin to fill one of the balloons.  Turn off the nozzle when the balloon is full enough that the water doesn’t come shooting back out the top – over half-way.)
  • “But by itself, this nozzle is pretty useless.  It has no water of its own to share.”
  • “We can’t connect just the nozzle to a balloon and fill it.”  (Disconnect the nozzle from the hose and give it to the volunteer.  Ask them to try to fill the balloons with just the nozzle.)
  • “That’s what it’s like if we try to do God’s work without God.”
  • “There is just no power in it.”
  • “So we have to stay connected to the hose if we want to have the power to do the work that God has given us to do.”  (Reconnect the nozzle, and let the volunteer continue filling the first balloon.  When it gets about full, start filling up another balloon.)
  • “What does it mean to be connected to the hose?  In other words, how can we stay connected to Jesus so that His Spirit flows through us and produces fruit?”
  • “There are two things we need to do in order to stay connected to the hose/to Jesus.”
  • “We need to spend time with God, and we need to obey God.”
  • “If we do these two things, we will stay connected to Jesus, and His power will flow through us and produce lots of fruit.”  (Allow volunteer to keep filling balloons slowly.  Don’t allow them to fill all the balloons before you finish the next part.)
  • “How can we spend time with God?”  (Listen to answers.  You are looking for things like, “Go to church, worship, praise, pray, read your Bible…”)
  • “Excellent! During those times, God will tell us what He wants us to do in our lives.”
  • “But spending time with Him is not enough.  We have to also do what He says.”
  • “Sometimes, we know what God wants us to do, but we don’t want to do it.”
  • “That’s called ‘DISOBEDIENCE’ (bring your “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer forward), and it’s disconnecting the hose so that the living water won’t pass through.” (Have “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer disconnect the hose so that the water stops.)
  • “Disobedience stops the flow of the living water coming through your nozzle.”
  • “Another word for ‘disobedience’ is ‘sin.’”
  • “Sin stops the flow of God’s power, which He sends through His Holy Spirit, through you.”
  • “But it’s easy to get the living water flowing again. What do you think you have to do?”  (Listen to responses.  You are looking for someone to say, “obey.”)
  • “That’s right!  Obey, and living water flows through you again to create more fruit.”  (Have “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer reconnect hose, and allow volunteer to fill in the rest of the balloons.  Then dismiss the volunteer.)
  • “So what are the two things we need to do to stay connected to God?”  (Listen for the answers, “spend time with Him” and “obey Him.”)
  • “Fantastic! Let’s all go and produce lots of fruit!”


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Capture Every Thought (GAME)


Time
30-45 minutes

Description
This game helps participants understand how important it is to capture every thought and take it captive before Christ.  It is loosely based on the game of Othello ® (Gabriel Industries, Inc.) or Reversi.

Audience
Children, youth

Materials
•    Gameboard (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    Game pieces (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    “Starting Positions” Gameboard (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    “Move #1, #2 & #3” slide (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    Glue stick
•    Scissors or cutting board
•    (Optional) Prizes for winners

Preparation
•    Make copies of the “Debrief Questions” page at the end of this lesson (one copy per table group).
•    Print copies of the game boards (1 for every two people)
•    Print copies of the game pieces (60 for ever two people – 1 page makes 60 pieces)
•    Print one copy each of the “Starting Positions” slide and the “Move #1, #2 & #3” example slide.
•    Fold the game piece pages along the blue line that divides the two colors.  Crease the page well along this fold.
•    Use a glue stick to stick the two pages together.  Make sure that the entire surface is covered.
•    Use the scissors or the cutting board to cut out each of the rectangular game pieces.  (They should now be a different color on each side.  Cut closely to the rectangles, because if the pieces are too big, they are difficult to flip on the gamebaord.)
•    Practice the script.

Procedure
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
•    “The Bible has a lot to say about what we think.”
•    “Our minds are a major battlefield for the spiritual war between Satan and God.”
•    “God wants our minds to be filled with good things that honor Him, because He knows that these things will bless us and help us live fulfilling lives.”
•    “Satan wants our minds to be filled with bad things that dishonor God, because he hates God and hates that we are made in God’s image.”
•    “Satan knows that he can’t do anything to diminish God, so he tries to hurt the Creator through His creation – and that’s us.”
•    “Let’s read a few of the Scriptures related to our thoughts.”  (Have volunteers read the following Scriptures out loud.)
o    Romans 8:6 (mind of sinful man is death; mind of the Spirit is life)
o    Proverbs 15:26 (the Lord detests thoughts of the wicked but is pleased by thoughts of the pure)
o    Isaiah 55:8-9 (God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts)
o    Colossians 3:2 (set minds on things above, not on earthly things)
o    Philippians 4:8 (think about excellent, praiseworthy….things)
o    2 Corinthians 10:5 (take every thought captive)
•    “So, we are to think about the things God thinks about and not about sinful things.”
•    “This is really hard to do, and it takes a lot of prayer and practice, because Satan is going to try to mess up our thoughts as much as possible.”
•    “He whispers evil thoughts to us from the spiritual realm, and if we aren’t careful, we accept his thoughts as our own.”
•    “That’s terribly dangerous, because the Bible says that everything Satan ever says is a lie.  Lying is his native language and the only language he speaks.”  (John 8:44)
•    “2 Corinthians 10:5 says that we are to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.”
•    “This means that when we have a bad thought or even a thought we aren’t sure about, we should ask God about it.”
•    “If is something true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, God will confirm it for you.”
•    “But if it’s a lie from Satan, God will replace it with the truth.”
•    “We’re going to play a game that will help us to remember to take every thought captive to Christ.”  (Divide group into pairs, and hand out the gameboards and game pieces for each pair.)
•    “You have a gameboard in front of you.  It has 64 spaces on it.”
•    “You also have 64 colored game pieces.  They are blue on one side and yellow on the other.”
•    “Each person should take 30 game pieces for himself and decide if he wants to be either blue or yellow.”  (Have them divide the pieces and pick a color.)
•    “Alright, everyone who chose blue, raise your hands.”  (Demonstrate.)
•    “In this battle, you represent the devil.  Sorry about that.”
•    “Everyone who chose yellow, you represent God.”
•    “The gameboard represents a human mind, and the game pieces each represent thoughts.”
•    “Dark blue pieces represent the bad thoughts and lies Satan tries to get us to believe and take as our own.”
•    “Yellow pieces represent the good thoughts and truth God wants us to believe and act on.”
•    “Each player starts with two thoughts (game pieces) on the board in the center squares.  They should look like this.”  (Show the “Starting Positions” slide.  Have all players put two of their game pieces down.)
•    “The goal of each player is to trap your opponents pieces between two of your own.”
•    “If you have one piece down already and then lay another one, you capture all of your opponent’s pieces that are between your two pieces.  You can then flip all those captured pieces over so that they are now your color.”  (Show “Move #1, #2 and #3” slide to give them examples.)
•    “You can capture pieces diagonally, horizontally or vertically.”
•    “You capture all the opponents’ pieces between your two pieces, so as the game progresses, you should be able to capture two, three, four or more pieces at a time.”
•    “You can even capture pieces in two or more directions at the same time as long as they are all between two of your pieces.”
•    “It’s important to know that you cannot play on spaces unless it allow you to capture at least one of your opponent’s pieces.”
•    “The winner is the person who has the most of their colored pieces on the board when it gets to a point that no one can make a move.”
•    “Dark blue pieces get to go first.”
•    “Do you have any questions about how to play?”  (Answer questions, and then allow them to play a round.  If they finish the first round quickly and you have the time, let them play several rounds.  Then, award a prize to the winners if you choose.  Pass out the Debrief Questions sheet to each group, and allow them 10-15 minutes to talk about the questions.  Then ask the large group for any general insights from the activity.)

Debrief Questions

o    How does this game reflect the battle between God and Satan for your mind?
o    Why would some bad thoughts from Satan change your good thoughts to bad ones (like capturing pieces in the game)?
o    The corners are the most strategic spaces on the gameboard, because they cannot be trapped once they belong to someone.  What might these represent in the battle for your mind?
o    Why is it important to guard your mind against Satan’s influence?  How can you do this?
o    How could you capture more thoughts for Christ?

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God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense (GAME)


God's Riches at Christ's Expense Gameboard

Time
30 minutes

Description
This game teaches that we have God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense (G.R.A.C.E.), but we have to keep returning to God every time we sin in order to keep the relationship strong.  If we don’t, we wander further and further from God.

Audience
Children, youth

Materials
•    Copies of the Grace or Guilt Gameboard (See the file, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense – Gameboard.ppt” on the “Lesson and Material Downloads” page.)
•    Copies of “Grace Cards” (included at the end of this lesson text) – You will need a set for every group of six.
•    A copy of the “Debrief Questions” at the end of this lesson.  You will need one printout per group.
•    Something to act as game pieces.  You can use coins, torn pieces of paper, poker chips…  You will need enough for all the children to have one.
•    Dice (one per group)
•    Optional – Prizes for the winners.

Preparation
•    Print the “Grace or Guilt – Gameboard,” and tape the two pages end-to-end.  You will need one gameboard for each group of up to six children.
•    Print out a copy of the “Grace Cards” at the end of the lesson, and cut them out. Place them face down beside the gameboard.
•    Print out a copy of the Debrief Question (one per group).
•    Practice the script

Procedure
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
•    “We’re going to play a game to help us understand how sin takes us away from God and the many blessings He wants us to have.”
•    “It’s called, ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”
•    “First, I’ll need to divide you into small groups.”  (Divide children into small groups of no more than six each.  Then, hand out the gameboards and game pieces.)
•    “Here’s the way this game is played.
o    First, you will all roll the die (singular for dice) to see who goes first.  The highest role wins and goes first.  The next-highest roll goes second and so on.  If you get a tie, those people should re-roll until someone rolls a higher number.
o    Players should put their game pieces on the paths that match their playing order.  For example, Path 1 for the first player, Path 2 for the second, and so on.
o    Next, you will roll the die to see how many spaces to move your game piece.
o    Each player starts in the “God’s Riches” space.
o    At the end of every turn, you will draw a card.
o    The card has a letter (or letters) on it.
o    You want to collect all the letters in the word, “GRACE.”
o    It’s okay if you have extra letters, but you need to have at least one of each of the letters on your cards.
o    If you get the right letters to spell, “GRACE,” you can return to the “God’s Riches” space.
o    You should put any cards you used to spell “GRACE” in a discard pile.  If the group draws all the card in the draw pile, the discard pile will be shuffled and used as the new draw pile.
o    The game ends when someone rolls a number that forces them to move more spaces than are left on the path.
o    The winner of the game is the person who is closest to “God’s Riches.”
o    In the event of a tie, you can let the tied players roll again to see who is the closest to “God’s Riches” after the roll.”
•    “Does anyone have questions about how you will play?”  (Answer questions.  Then, let them get started.  When they are done, award a prize for the winners if you like, and hand out a copy of the Debrief Questions on the next page.  Give groups ten minutes to discuss the debrief questions, and then talk with the entire group about their answers.)

Debrief Questions

o    Why is the game called, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense?
o    What are “God’s Riches?”
o    What does “Christ’s Expense” mean?
o    How is this game like our Christian walk?
o    Read Proverbs 4:14-15.  What do you think the spaces represented?
o    Read Proverbs 4:26-27.  What do you think it means?
o    Grace allows us to return to God after we have sinned, but what do we actually need to do to return to Him?

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Filed under Christianity, Confession, Daily walk, forgiveness, Game, Games that Teach, Obedience, Repentance, Spiritual Health

Fruit of the Spirit Jenga


 Time

15-20 minutes

Description

This object lesson teaches how important it is to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.  It uses the popular Jenga ® game from Hasbro.

 

Materials

  • Jenga ® game (or a similar game that is played with a block tower)
  • Label maker or permanent marker

 

Preparation

  • Using the label maker or the permanent marker, label all the Jenga blocks with “Jesus” and the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23.  If the tower his 16 levels tall, you can use the numbers to the right of each label to determine how many blocks will be allocated to each one.


·      Jesus (16 blocks)

·      Love (4 blocks)

·      Joy (4 blocks)

·      Peace (4 blocks)

·      Patience (4 blocks)     

·      Kindness (4 blocks)

·      Goodness (3 blocks)

·      Faithfulness (3 blocks)

·      Gentleness (3 blocks)

·      Self-control (3 blocks)


·      Repeat the labeling process for each Jenga ® set until you have enough for each table group or for each set of 6-8 participants.

·      Set up the towers (each level should run perpendicular to the one below it), and return them to their packaging.

o   The “Jesus” blocks should be the center block of each level.

·      Set out one tower per table group.

 

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

·      “We’re going to play a game using the block towers in the middle of your tables.”

·      “Carefully remove the packaging so that your tower will continue standing.”

·      “Here are the rules of the game:

o   Each person will use one hand (and one hand only) to remove a block from the tower.

o   Be careful not to make the tower fall when you remove the block, because if the tower falls after you’ve touched it, you lose.

o   If one person successfully removes a block without knocking down the tower, it becomes the next person’s turn.  Play moves clockwise around the table.

o   Keep playing until someone knocks the tower over – just make sure it isn’t you!

o   And be sure not to bump the table, because you might accidentally cause the tower to fall.

o   We will continue playing until all groups have the tower fall, so if your group finishes a game before the others, you can rebuild your tower and start again.”

·      “Does anyone have any questions about how to play?”  (Allow groups to play, and celebrate the team that was able to hold out the longest.)

·      “Did you notice anything about the pieces you pulled out of the towers?”  (Listen for them to acknowledge that the pieces had words written on them and that many had “Jesus” written on them.)

·      “Right.  Each level had ‘Jesus’ as the center block.  Does anyone know what the other words represented?” (Listen for someone to mention the fruit of the Spirit, but if they don’t, have someone read Galatians 5:22-23.)

·      “Those nine words represent what we call “the fruit of the Spirit.”

·      “When we are walking closely with the Lord, our lives should show some fruit of the Spirit’s work within us.”

  • “The longer we are Christians, the more fruit we should show.”
  • “So, what do you think the towers represented?”  (Listen for someone to say, ‘our lives,’ or ‘our Christian walk.’”
  • “Exactly!  The tower is a picture of our life as a Christian.”
  • “What does the game illustrate about our Christian walk?”  (Listen for responses.)
  • “We can fail to show love (hold up a block from one of the games), and the tower will still stand.”
  • “We can fail to show patience, and our lives will still look normal to everyone around us.”   (Hold up another block.)
  • “We can fail to show several of these fruits in our life, and people can still think that we are godly Christians who are following the Lord closely.”  (Hold up several blocks.)
  • “But fruit of the Spirit that disappears from our tower, the more likely it’s going to fall.”
  • “When it does, people are often confused and surprised.  They thought we were walking so closely with God and didn’t realize how close to collapse we were.”
  • “Why do you think I put a ‘Jesus’ block in the center of each level?”  (Listen to responses.)
  • “Yes, if Jesus isn’t at the center of our lives, it’s not likely that we will show much fruit in our walk.”
  • “We show fruit of the Spirit by following God closely and by keeping Jesus at the center of our lives.”
  • “Studying our Bibles, going to church, spending time with Christian friends, praying…these are just a few ways for us to follow God so that we show more fruit.”
  • “When we stop doing these things, the fruit starts to fall off our tree.  We get angry quickly, we fail to show kindness, we do things we shouldn’t do, we lose our joy or peace…”
  • “Before too long, people will notice the changes, and our tower will come tumbling down.”
  • “In your table groups (or with a partner), talk about the fruit of the Spirit that you are struggling to show lately.  Is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control?”
  • “Then tell them what you plan to do to change things so that you show more fruit in that area.” (Allow a few minutes for discussion.  Then invite anyone who wants to share their thoughts or their commitment with the rest of the group to do so.)
  • “Remember to guard your fruit.  The Enemy will try to pick a piece at a time, and before you know it, you won’t have any left.”
  • “Stay close to God by spending time with Him and with other believers, and you will have more and more fruit so that your towers stay strong.”

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