Theme: Hold fast to the teachings of God and practice spiritual disciplines.
Scripture: Deuteronomy 4:1-9, Mark 7:1-23, Ephesians 6:10-20
Materials: Soldier “paper doll”, weapon cut-outs, tape/glue/velcro
Opening: Have children sit in a circle. Introduce yourself. Light the candle and say, “We can’t see God, but we can see his light in the world. This candle reminds us that God is here with us.” Say a quick opening prayer for your time together and lead the Lord’s Prayer.
Lesson: I am thinking of a certain job. I am going to give you a few clues and then give you an opportunity to guess. This person is brave, loyal, and strong. They may have many different roles in this job, but their main job is to protect their country. Can you guess what job I’m thinking about? That’s correct! I am thinking of a soldier! Do any of you know a soldier? What are they like?
When you think of a soldier you might think of someone like these two men wearing green fatigues, boots, and patches. You might even think about some of the weapons they use. We are going to talk about a similar warrior – a Roman soldier. They had many of the same qualities and duties of our soldiers today, but, boy, did they dress differently! Their weapons were different too! Each piece of a Roman soldier’s uniform had a very special purpose, most preserved the soldier’s life. We are going to talk about the different parts of a Roman soldier’s armor, but first we are going to read from the book of Ephesians and hear about how Paul compares Christian training to the different parts of a soldier’s armor.
Read Ephesians 6:10-20 from the Bible provided.
Paul tells the believers, in this letter, things like “stand firm”, “withstand”, “keep alert”, and “persevere”. All of these words remind us to continue in our walk with God and to not forget all of the blessings he has given us. In Deuteronomy, Moses urges God’s people to “take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life”. Both Paul and Moses knew how easy it is for us to forget about God and continue on with our lives. It might seem harmless to go a couple days without praying or spending time with God by reading the Bible, but those few days can quickly turn into weeks, month, or even years where we don’t give God a second thought. How sad! This is why we must be warriors for God. Being a warrior doesn’t mean that you are always fighting, but all soldiers continue to train so that they remain strong for the day when they do have to fight. We too have to train every day so that we will have the strength of God’s words in our hearts and trust in his power in dark days.
Illustration: Print the Roman soldier out on a large sheet of paper – color him if you would like. Print out the pieces of armor on the same size paper and cut each out. I will be gluing tin foil on some of them to give them a stronger appearance. As you describe each piece of armor, have a child tape/glue/Velcro the corresponding piece to the soldier and have the rest of the children color the corresponding piece of armor on their coloring sheets of the soldier. It will be much easier if you specify the color of each piece: “Now find the breastplate and color it blue. Can you find the sword and color it grey?” Let’s look at the different pieces of armor Paul describes and see how they are central to our daily walk with God.
- First, Paul talks about the belt of truth. The belt was so important to a Roman soldier since it held the sheath for their sword and the strips of leather that protected their lower body. Godly truth is important to us because we need it to carry the sword of the Spirit and use the sword well.
- Next, is the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate protects a lot of vital organs – heart, lungs, stomach. An attack to any of these would surely mean death. In the same way, not walking in the righteousness of God or following his path for our lives leads to real death. But his way protects us from all evil.
- Shoes may not seem like an important part of the armor of God, but think about how little things, like sticks and rocks, hurt our tender feet and prevent us from continuing on our path. Shoes allow us to step freely and without fear while we turn our full attention to the battle at hand.
- The shield of faith – A Roman’s shield was huge (three feet tall) and curved, so not only did it guard the whole body, but it also deflected forceful blows that would otherwise hurt or destroy the soldier. It may take extra effort on our part to raise the heavy shield of faith and to put our whole trust in God, but it will surely protect us from all assaults.
- Next, Paul mentions the helmet of salvation. Obviously the head is a pretty important thing to protect. In the same way that the precious metal of a helmet protected a soldier’s head, so does the assurance of salvation, of our eternal life with Jesus, protect our minds from discouragement in a fallen world and from temptations to disobey God.
- Finally, the sword of the Spirit, the only real weapon – The Roman’s sword was double-edged and was a fierce weapon on the battlefield. God’s Spirit goes out before us like the sword. It helps us cut to the core of a matter and find the truth, it directs us to the truth in God’s word, and it also helps us to cut out any obstacles in our lives.
All of these pieces of armor are heavy and unnatural to our human tendencies, but we must, with the help of God, pick them up every day. We must continue to train, through our devotions and prayers, so that we do not forget God’s great gifts and find ourselves unprotected in difficult times. Stay alert! Carefully and attentively keep and train your soul! Stand firm in the promises and protection of God!
Closing prayer: Dear God, thank you for your daily provision. Send your Holy Spirit to guide and protect us and we go on in this life. Help us maintain and mature our faith, and bring us to your Heavenly home where there are no temptations, troubles, or worries. Amen
PARENTS! There are many ways to help train your children at home. Read to them from a children’s Bible, pray with them outside of mealtime, point out God’s presence in everyday activities, lead them in memorizing important Biblical truths. Most importantly, be a model for them – let them see how you follow God on a daily basis. A great resource for learning or memorizing important Bible verses with your children is Truth Cards (www.truthcards.org).