My dad was a bartender, among other things, and when I was kid my father tended bar at the American Legion about a mile from our house. Next to the American Legion was a bakery and right around the time my father was getting off work, around 4 a.m., the baker was finishing their first batch of breads. My dad would stop by the bakery, head home and then wake me up and announce, “I have fresh bread”.
My dad passed away when I was 8-9 years old and this is my favorite story to tell about my dad. It is the story that most links me to my heavenly father. I had no other Father but God going forward. My Heavenly Father still brings me fresh bread through His word and His Spirit. Like dropping manna for the Israelites in the wilderness, so my father supplies me daily with words of encouragement and affirmation.
This lesson come out of heart that knows the loneliness of not having a physical dad. Many of your students may feel the same way whether through death, divorces, estrangement or abandonment. If it will help get the point across that God is a good father, feel free to use my story as part of this lesson.
If you want the slides and the small group questions that go alone with this lesson as well as a responsive reading to The Lord’s Prayer, you can sign up for my Youth Ministry Newsletter and they are all yours.
Objective: Students will learn that calling God Father will deepen their relationship with God.
Opening Activity: Family Frenzy (10 minutes)
Take some index cards and write the names of a father on an individual card, like Homer from the Simpsons. On the other index cards, write, one name per card, the name of Homer’s family Marge, Bart Lisa and Maggie. Make 10 families per team and shuffle the cards. Teams must organize the families, correctly to win. You can use shows from Netflix, Cartoons, etc. Use whatever is popular at the moment but don’t be afraid to throw in an old school show like The Addams Family.
Transition: There are many people who find it hard to relate to God as a father because they with either did not have a father in their life or they had a bad father in their life. Although both of those scenarios affect how we see our relationship to God as a Father, neither one keeps God from being Fatherly to us.
The Father Affirms Us
Read: Matthew 3:13-17
In this verse God affirms his relationship with his son. So many people would love to hear the words Jesus heard from their father, “You are my son/daughter and in you I am well pleased”. Jesus had no doubt whether His father loved him or not. You do not have to seek God’s love, God loves you. You don’t have to be good or perfect for God to love you, He just does.
In fact, the only reason we can become followers of Jesus is because the Father draws us.
Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. John 6:44.
The Father, God, is always reaching out, always drawing, not just a few but everyone, always seeking to affirm us as His kids. All we have to do is accept His son and follow.
Read: Matthew 6:5-15, Luke 11:2-4
Jesus encourages his disciples to refer to God as our Father, not just His Father. Jesus is inviting us to be family, one Father many siblings.
The word Father, in these two versus and most of the new testament, means:
He who imparts life and is committed to it
Spoiler alert, you have to have a man and a women to make a baby, but just because you are a man, it does not make you a father. God, unlike many men, imparts life and is committed to it. God is a good Father who sticks around when times are hard for us, God listens to our deepest troubles and empathizes with us, God doesn’t just say, “man up” and leave us to struggle. He walks with us.
The word also means, potential for likeness. Who do you most resemble, your mom or your dad? If you look more like your dad it’s because his XY chromosomes, they determine your gender, make or female.
The word Father also means potential for likeness. Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:3 “You must be born again” He’s telling him, God wants your image, that has been marred by sin and disobedience, to be re-claimed to be in his likeness. (Gen. 1:26-28)
Read: Mark 14:36
Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, right before he is to be taken, tried, tortured and killed, He has a very real discussion with His Father. In fact, Jesus calls His father a word we do not see him use more than once in any of the four gospels. Jesus prays and calls his Father, Abba, which is term of endearment like poppa or daddy. Do you call your dad anything more personal than Father like pops, etc.
Jesus is 100 human and 100 percent divine, and what Jesus does is a very human thing to do, when trouble is near He calls on his Father. He asks His Father, if this (his death) can be avoided, “then let this up pass from me” and he weeps so hard, he cries tears of blood (Luke 22:44)
Have you ever had to call your dad when you were in trouble? Did he help you out but you still had to face the consequences? When you read John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. That is Jesus saying, “I am willing to do whatever my Father asks of me so that the whole world can know Him as Father and not just God.”
Read: Psalm 68: 4-6
Just like you organized families in the beginning of our meeting, God organizes families both by the families new are born into and the families we choose.
It all begins with addressing the Creator as God and acknowledges His existence, but calling God Father acknowledges your relationship to him.
Close in prayer