This is part of a new series we’re calling, “Hello, My Name Is… A Series on the Names of God.” Look for the next installments to come throughout February. You can find the latest when you follow Tara’s author archive. We’ll add links to the whole Bible study once it’s complete.
Lesson Five: Abba/Father
Main Idea: God is a loving Father to those who choose to follow him.
Memory Verse: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.” Psalm 9:10
- Read lesson, Scripture references, and Mark 14:36, John 1:12-13, Galatians 4:5-8, Luke 12:32, 2 Corinthians 6:18, Hosea 11:1-3, 1 John 3:1-2, Luke 15:11-32
- Gather: Bible, lesson plan, dry erase markers or chart paper and markers, construction paper, markers or crayons, scissors
- To help keep track of the names of God learned over this series, write each lesson’s name of God on the board along with the main idea. Tape a strip of paper over the name, and one over the main idea. Use this to review the lesson as you go. Alternatively, use large flash cards with the name of God on the front and the main idea on the back. Create one of these every week and review with the class as you go.
- Take time to meditate on this lesson and apply it to your own life. I have often heard that Abba is Aramaic for “Daddy,” but in all my research, I could not find any proof that this is true. “Abba” means “Father”, but it does not seem to mean the more informal “Daddy.” I have often referred to God as my daddy through prayer, but there seems to be no Biblical precedence for calling God, “Daddy.” I don’t see this as a sin, but I do want to leave a caution against an overly informal relationship with God. We are to be comfortable with the Lord, but we must not forget that he is holy. So we see in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9, “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.” May we keep our Father’s name holy and set apart. Please take the time to study the extra Bible verses listed above, as they help illuminate Abba more beyond the scope of this lesson. Also, please be sensitive to the family dynamics in your group. You may have children in foster care, adopted out of difficult situations, children from divorced homes or mixed families. There may be a history of abuse or neglect about which you may not be aware. Not everyone in your class may know what it is like to have an earthly daddy who shows them love.
- Psalm 9:10
- Romans 8:14-17
- Matthew 7:9-11
- Mark 6:31-33
- 2 Corinthians 1:3
- Psalm 103:13-14
- Micah 7:19
- Ephesians 1:5
Game: Father May I
“Father May I” is exactly like “Mother May I.” The player who is “it” (Father) stands at the far end of the room with his or her back turned. The rest of the kids stand shoulder to shoulder at the other end of the room. They take turns asking Father if they may take a certain number of a certain type of steps. For example, they could ask, “Father, may I take 1/2/5 baby/giant/silly steps forward/backward?” Father then says yes or no. They may not say no more than three or four times a game, otherwise no one would get to move. The first student to reach Father wins, and becomes Father in the next round.
Message: Open in prayer, then say, Wow, can you believe we are starting week five of our Names of God study? I am so proud of all of your hard work! Before we jump into today’s lesson, let’s take some time to review. Who knows our memory verse? “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.” Psalm 9:10. (Allow students to try to recite this verse from memory, and take a few minutes to work on memorizing it as a class.) This Bible verse is a great reminder that when we know God’s name, when we put our trust in him, he will always be with us and he will never leave us. We’re starting to see that there are a lot of names and titles of God in the Bible! We have learned that God is our Strong Creator, who has big plans for us. His special, holy name is Yahweh, and he saves us from our sins through Jesus Christ. Last week we learned that God is our Master and we are his slaves. He blesses us when we follow his commands. This week’s name of God can seem like the exact opposite of Master. But God is so big and so amazing, that both names can be his at the same time. So that’s enough teasing. Let’s find out what today’s name of God is!
Follow along with me in your Bibles as I read Romans 8:14-17. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”
There’s a lot going on in those verses. Let’s start by finding God’s name. What is God called in this passage? (Allow a student to answer.) God is called “Abba, Father.” (Write “Abba, Father” on the board.) “Abba” is Aramaic for Father. Aramaic was a language that was spoken at the time of Jesus. God is Father. But God is not everyone’s Father. According to the passage we just read, what special circumstance makes it possible for us to be called God’s children? How do we become a child of God, so we can call him Father? (Allow students to answer.) Verse 14 tells us that everyone who is led by the Spirit of God is called a child of God. The Spirit of God is of course the Holy Spirit, which comes into our hearts when we ask God to forgive us of our sins through his son Jesus, and then we do our best to follow him. So, we are God’s children when we love God.
Isn’t this great news? We know we don’t have to be fearful slaves, because we learned last week that God is a kind and generous Master. But we aren’t just servants to God, we are his children. He loves us just like dads love their kids. Well, that isn’t quite right. Dads on earth are humans. That means they are sinners. All of our dads make mistakes. They say things they don’t mean and sometimes do things they should not do. Just like us, because we are all sinners. But God is perfect. He does not sin. Let’s have a quick sword drill. Take all fingers and bookmarks out of your Bibles and hold them above your heads. When I say go, turn to Matthew 7:9-11. Go! (Read, or have a student read, Matthew 7:9-11.) “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” You see, as much as your parents love you, God loves you even more! When we pray to God, he gives us good things, because he loves us like our parents do, but better. He loves us perfectly. Now I want to take a moment to mention, that not everyone lives with their mom and dad. Some kids live in foster homes, some live with grandparents or aunts and uncles, and some may live in homes where their parents love them, but don’t know how to show it. Sometimes, it’s hard to look at parents on earth and imagine that God is a Father to us, because earthly fathers are sinners and God is perfect. So I want to take a few minutes to make a list on the board of things that make someone a good parent. I don’t mean things like “they let you stay up all night and eat candy.” That may sound like fun, but isn’t very healthy, is it? So, tell me, what makes someone a good parent? (Have the children make a list with characteristics of a good parent. Be sure the following characteristics make it onto the list, as these are the ones we will focus on for the rest of the lesson: care for our needs, compassionate, comforting.)
You all came up with a great list of things that make a good parent! We’re going to look at three of these characteristics, because they show us how Abba, our Heavenly Father, cares for us. The first characteristic I want to look at is found in Matthew 6:31-33. It says, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” From these verses we see that our Heavenly Father gives us everything we need. It doesn’t say everything we want. But when we trust Abba and put all of our thoughts and energy into following his will instead of worrying about things, then he will give us everything that we need. Abba cares for our needs. (Under “Abba, Father” on the board, write “cares for our needs.”)
Next, let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 1:3. “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.” That one is pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Whenever we are scared, worried, or sad, God will comfort us. Whenever we are scared or sad, we can pray to Abba and he will give us peace. (Write “comforts us” on the board under “cares for our needs.)
For our last characteristic, let’s read Psalm 103:13-14. “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” Abba is compassionate towards us. (Write “compassionate” on the board under “comforts us.”) What does it mean to be compassionate? (Allow a student to answer.) To be compassionate means to show sympathy or concern for someone. But it’s not just sitting around, feeling bad for someone. When we have compassion, we are moved to action. It’s like seeing someone at school who doesn’t have any lunch, and sharing your lunch with them. That’s compassion. God has compassion on us by forgiving us of our sins. Micah 7:19 tells us exactly what God does with sin! It says, “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” Abba gets rid of our sins!
Not only does he get rid of our sins, he sent his one and only son, Jesus, to die for our sins so God could adopt us. Ephesians 1:5 says, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” It makes God happy for us to be his children!
Let’s really let that sink in. God, the Strong Creator, the God who Saves, the Master, is thrilled to adopt us as his children! All we have to do is believe that he loves us, and do our best to obey his commands.
Close in prayer.
Let the class choose a piece of construction paper. Show them how to fold it in half and cut out a large heart. Have them write “Abba loves me!” on the heart. You could then have them decorate it however they wish, or have them write or draw ways in which God the Father loves them. On the back, have them record the memory verse: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.” Psalm 9:10