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4th Grade: God is Father

 

Blueprint Big Idea

There are many names for God and each one helps explain an aspect of who He is. The name Father gives us a special revelation of God and His role in our lives and your child’s life. A man cannot be a Father without a child, because it is the presence of the child that actually activates or “gives” the name to the father. God is called Father in the Old Testament by His people, and this title comes to life in a more powerful way when Jesus, His son arrives on the scene. Men, your child named you father when they arrived, and the same is true for mothers, of course. The name father brings smiles and happy memories to many, and pain to some doesn’t it? Your relationship with your earthly father matters to God and yet regardless of its status, when you emphasize our Heavenly Father’s role in your life you encourage your child. When you emphasize God as a loving Heavenly Father you teach your son and daughter they can count on their Heavenly Father to protect them, provide for them and lead them spiritually. This is their earthly father’s role as well but if circumstances don’t allow for that, then God can provide this fathering through others. The name Heavenly Father needs to be safe and placed in high regard for your children so they can relate to God Himself unhindered. The five blueprints below will help you build that foundation.

 

Your child’s relationships

At this age, your son or daughter will become more engaged in identifying themselves with their friends and family. They understand the concept of “team” and want to feel pride in those closest to them. This is a crucial year to build a sense of family, not just with immediate family members but with extended family as well. Take the opportunity to highlight family stories with your kids at dinner starting with stories of their earlier childhood. Kids love to hear about Grandpa when he was young and the crazy things Daddy did as a kid! Celebrating the unique strengths of all family members through stories and experiences gives your child a sense of ownership with their place in the family. This is an important time to celebrate stories of children who are adopted as well, and linking their story to the truth that God adopted us into His family is a great idea! God uses family more than any other “tool” to shape us, so take advantage of this focus.

 
 
Blueprint Truth #1
 

GOD IS OUR HEAVENLY FATHER

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God.

- I John 3:1

Biblical Background

In the book of Genesis, which means beginning or origin, God began His story by creating an environment of life, then He created man in His image to be the centerpiece of His creation. God’s intent was to have a relationship with mankind. As in any relationship, there are roles or titles and one of the ways we understand God and His role in our life is through the name Father. God has been described as Father throughout Scripture, but surprisingly much fewer times in the Old Testament compared to the New Testament (15 times, compared to 165+ times in the four gospels). The use of Father in the Old Testament may have been limited because of other Eastern religions that focused on fertility. Regardless, the Father imagery is important to reveal God’s protective and providing nature. Isaiah 63:16 (KJV) says, “Thou, O Lord art our Father, Our Redeemer from everlasting is Thy name.” Deuteronomy 32:6 says, “Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you.” Jeremiah 3:19 says, “How I would set you among My sons, and give you a pleasant land. The most beautiful inheritance of the nations! And I said, You shall call Me, My Father, and not turn away from following Me.” In the New Testament Jesus spoke of His Father often. Luke 10:22 says, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Additionally, Luke 12:31-33 says, “But seek His Kingdom, and these things shall be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys.”

 

Application

God’s role as Father is seen throughout the Bible and is key to how the Kingdom of God functions, both in Heaven and here on earth. How your son and daughter relate to their earthly father greatly affects how they relate to God and how they see themselves. I want to encourage all you dads that you can be a good father, even under difficult circumstances. Research shows us that an involved father is key to their child’s overall well-being in every major area of life! Starting at a young age, your son will need to know you are proud of him and love him. You communicate this through speech and actions. Your daughter will need to know the same and that she is your princess and you will protect her. Both Mom and Dad are needed for healthy development, but the male voice seems to be an extra powerful voice in ensuring healthy sexual identity. Fathers communicating their love and commitment to their kids will help them grow into the person God intended them to be. God the Father spoke all of creation into existence one time, but Dads you will need to speak these truths at every age as your child grows. For you single moms, God the Father has promised in scripture to step in as the Father to the fatherless, and He will speak truth to your kids through you and other trusted adults. Seek Him for guidance and do not be afraid. I am so impressed with single parents of both sexes I know and I have seen God’s faithfulness to fill in the picture when a mother or father is not present due to death, divorce, illness or military service.

 
 
Blueprint Truth #2
 

WE ARE ALL ADOPTED INTO GOD’S FAMILY

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself. 

- Ephesians 1:4-5

Biblical Background

The teaching on the Fatherhood of God changes drastically with Jesus, whose favorite term for addressing God was Father. He says this 65 times in the Gospels. The term He used most often is “Abba”, which did not appear in pre-Christian Jewish literature. Abba is intimate and it reflects relationship. I John 3:1 says, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God.” God’s intent for Adam and Eve to begin His family was initially impacted by sin, but was not thwarted forever and God has “planned” for His family from the beginning of time using adoption. God, as the Heavenly Father, reveals His heart for His created even before we arrived as seen in Ephesians 1:4-5, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Christ to Himself.” We can call God Father, only because of the work of Christ. The title Father was how Jesus intended for His disciples to address God when they asked Him how to pray. Matthew 6:9 says, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…’ Jesus Himself did not say “Our Father” because His son-ship is different. He is by nature a son but His disciples and the rest of mankind are adopted as sons and daughters. It is through the work of Christ alone that we can call God Father and even Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, shows this connection as he often refers to “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” in his letters.

 

Application

A very important truth about family formation is that we can build our families biologically or through adoption. All children are a gift from God, and your son or daughter should learn how special someone is who has been adopted and that adoption looks like God’s heart. I work with pregnancy resource centers nationwide and over the years we found some of the clients choosing abortion because they see adoption in such a negative light. Adoption has challenges and requires great courage on the part of both the birth mother and adopting families, but when needed it is a beautiful picture of God’s nature. At this age, your child needs to know “adoption is good.” Many years ago, when I was speaking at a Jr. High youth retreat, I mentioned that God had adopted all of us and felt compelled to say, “If you have been adopted, you are extra special because someone really worked hard at finding you, and making you part of their forever family.” and a few other similar statements. Weeks later I received a letter from a young lady who said, “I am adopted, and until the retreat I had always felt worthless. Because of what you said I now know I am not worthless, and God loves me. Thank you!” I am still moved to tears over this. We must teach the truth about the special nature of adoption, so no child ever has to wonder about their worth. Currently, worldwide there are so many orphans and kids in need that our generation has an opportunity to adopt either directly, or through special agency programs from a distance, providing food, water and education. Either way, engage this conversation with your kids at this age!

 

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Blueprint Truth #3
 

FAMILY IS THE FOUNDATION OF SOCIETY AND THE CHURCH

For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  

- Ephesians 3:14-15

Biblical Background

In Genesis 2:22-25, we see God establishing the first couple, the first marriage and the first family. This couple represents the genesis, or the beginning of all other marriages. A marriage is sacred in God’s eyes, and it represents in one finite sense, God’s relationship with His bride, the church. (Eph. 5:32) Additionally, in Genesis 1:28, we see God giving Adam and Eve an outline of what a healthy marriage should do… produce something! “And God blessed them (Blessed means what is to follow is actually good news!) and God said, ’Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” In short, couples are to be fruitful, which includes children when possible and influencing the world for the Kingdom of God! Family is God’s foundation for society and His church. Ephesians 3:14-15 says, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” A strong sense of community is seen in healthy, functioning families and was also seen in Hebrew society. For example, in the Hebrew culture, the “father’s house” (bayit house or bet ab father’s house) was the “life center” for all family members, even extended family. The family was the unit that society was built around, and individuals found their place in society through the family and its extensions. In the New Testament church, family is still very important, and great care is taken to explain the roles of family members (Ephesians 5:25-33, 6:4 and Colossians 3:21). Family is not just anyone you happen to be friends with although there are friends who stick closer than a brother! We are all created on purpose, with a purpose, and God will use our families whenever possible to mold us in to His image to fulfill His purposes.

 

Application

Your child will gain an immense sense of “self” in a healthy way when you emphasize your family name, history and stories of generations who have gone before them. Your child with this bigger picture in mind will soon realize they are not the center of the universe, albeit very special, and they will love feeling part of something bigger. One simple way to make family important is by setting family values that your kids will see posted in your home. We did this when our kids were young and included the family rules, and they still talk about them today. It was also practical to have them written out so we didn’t have to repeat them all the time! Another simple way to emphasize family when teaching them how they should act is to say, “Abbott kids do not do treat each other poorly, or Abbott kids always let grown-ups have the comfortable chair. Abbott kids respect their teachers, or in the Abbott family we don’t swear or cheat.” Use your name and build a sense of esteem and confidence. Your good name matters, and later it actually serves as a deterrent to bad behavior. We have always told our children that we will do our best to teach them the truth and how to act, but they have free will. When they choose to act right, they get the credit. It is their reputation and character they are building first. Proverbs 20:11 says, “It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right.” We have also stressed that their deeds impact our family name, as well as the name of Christ once they become a follower of Christ so their behavior matters. These are not threats, but relationship realities. Parents, we should love our kids no matter what, and giving them a sense of responsibility to their family and God’s reputation is healthy, and right.

 
 
Blueprint Truth #4
 

FATHERS AND MOTHERS HAVE UNIQUE ROLES

Honor your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God give you. 

- Exodus 20:12

Biblical Background

In the family formed by God, like any successful organization, we see unique roles for each valued member. We initially see this played out in Genesis when God makes Adam, the first man in Genesis 2:7 and later places him in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:15 says, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Adam, representing all men, was to be the husband to the culture of life that God created, and in doing so, reflect part of God’s nature. Man, acting as husband, means many things including providing for his family, protecting his family, leading his family spiritually (priest) and maintaining a fertile (life-giving) environment for his loved ones to thrive. Eve, the first woman is then added to the picture, as God creates her to be the finishing touch of glory on God’s created order. Eve, brought to the man as a co-equal vice regent on God’s behalf (Genesis 2:22), completes the picture of male and female, and then husband and wife (Genesis 2:23-24), creating the picture of wholeness that all of God’s relationships prescribe. God calls the woman the “helper” because Eve will uniquely help govern the life-giving environment alongside Adam. God intentionally uses the same word Helper (Ezer) He uses for Himself many times in scripture. It is a noble name revealing the power all woman have to help a child with his shoes, help a friend in distress or help bring insight at a corporate board meeting. The story continues…After the wedding, Adam names his wife Eve. This name means “life-bearer.” As a wife and later as a mother, Eve represents all women who do many things with purity, power and purpose. In doing so, she also reflects part of God’s nature. Eve, as a co-creator, is uniquely designed to bring forth life, so she becomes a mother. Genesis 4:1 says, “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain…” As a co-creator, she cooperates with the Holy Spirit and is able to nurture and care for life around her in a feminine way. If any woman is not able to biologically have children, she still has all the design features needed to be a wonderful mother through adoption or foster care and can impact her world like Mother Theresa. Her power to communicate, like Adam’s, gives her great influence in the lives of everyone around her, beginning first with her husband and children. God thinks so highly of the roles of mother and father that honoring them is included in the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” Being a father or mother is one of the greatest privileges any person can experience. In God’s eyes, these roles are key to His “life” plan and understanding His nature. He is our ultimate “parent” and uses earthly parents to extend His care and training of us.

 

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Application

Leaders who love what they do are the most compelling, most respected and the easiest to follow. Mom and Dad, you are leaders. Your role as a parent is a leadership role, and the more you enjoy it, the better it is for your whole family. The first step in enjoying your role, is to keep growing in it because none of us has ever “arrived” or done it perfect! Initially, you will want to be your best at being male and female to represent a glimpse of God to each other, your children and to the world. Sexual integrity means living in agreement with your male and female design in all five aspects. (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social, Spiritual) Then, two important aspects of the roles of Dad and Mom come to mind, although there are so many we could discuss. Who does laundry is not what I am talking about. Think bigger! For instance, God intends for men to provide. This doesn’t mean women shouldn’t, as many women work inside and outside the home and this is your decision as a couple depending on your personal situation. It does mean men however, that men should always provide unless there are unusual circumstances. In this, they reflect God and teach their children that God can be trusted to provide and this builds a child’s faith in God. The man also gets the benefit of building “masculine muscle” by working. Here is another: All women should nurture. This doesn’t mean men shouldn’t also nurture, because in fact they do. However, when a woman isn’t nurturing, something in our trust and understanding of God is missing. Creating a nurturing environment is a priority for women regardless if work is at home (all women work!) or also outside the home. Thankfully, women are recognizing they need to tend to the first garden God gave them, their family, before adding a second or third such as ministry, a second job etc. You can know these two areas (provision and nurture) are important by asking yourself: “Did I feel nurtured by my mother? If not, how has that affected me?” “Did my dad provide for his family, and if not, how has that affected me?” These two areas have lasting impact on a lot of people I know and affect our view of God. Don’t get caught in the wrong argument of trying to prove the sexes are equal—God’s word has answered that with an emphatic YES! Instead, get caught up in being who God intended you to be as a man or woman! This is a much better way to expand His Kingdom! I am a wife, mother and grandmother first, a leader, teacher, radio host and author/speaker second. Those closest to me should get my best efforts and then God’s grace allows me to tend to my other roles with efficiency and grace when I have tended to my first garden well.

 

 
 
Blueprint Truth #5
 

GENERATIONS OF LIFE BUILD A LEGACY

 

You shall not worship them or serve them; (idols) for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep my commandments. 

- Exodus 20:5-6

 

Biblical Background

Scripture paints a generational picture for us in many passages. We see God speaking to Moses in Exodus 3:15, “And God, furthermore said to Moses, ’Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial name to all generations.” Family and generations of families are important to God. Proverbs 17:6 says, “Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers.” Throughout Scripture we see an emphasis on generations of God’s faithfulness; but also man’s lack of faithfulness. Deut. 32:4-5 says, “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just. A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He. They have acted corruptly toward Him, they are not His children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation.” God is love, but He is also jealous. He is forgiving and He is just and we cannot forget our actions have consequences. Our behavior is never just about “us” but will impact many around us, including our families and sometimes the consequences last for generations. Exodus 20:5-6 says, “You shall not worship them or serve them; (idols) for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep my commandments.” What we believe and as a result, how we live, will definitely leave a legacy so what will your legacy be?

 

Application

Ripples in a pond show us that our actions, like dropping a rock in a pond will have influence beyond the first impact. In the same way our words and beliefs have a continual influence beyond their first impact. Keep this principle in mind as you teach your kids because their actions, like yours, will impact generations. Additionally, take this opportunity to talk about the brave and heroic deeds of your ancestors or of people like the founding fathers and other inspirational stories so they get a sense of the generations who have gone before them. On a personal note, honoring your parents (their grandparents) is a key to modeling what generational honor looks like. I love to see families taking the time to honor the senior members and it does a soul good to experience this godly transaction, especially in public. On the other hand, if you do not speak in high regard about your parents, you will be teaching your children to do the same regarding you. I understand this can be difficult if you have a challenging relationship with their grandparents, but any attempt at honor will bring healing. Since your kids have no power to change your relationship with your parents, it makes no sense to get your kids involved by sharing stories of the past. Let their childhood be free of your burdens and give them ways to enjoy their grandparents, even if it is a distant relationship. This helps form a sense of the generations for your child and it will be a blessing because honoring your mother and father is the only commandment with a promised outcome, that it will go well with you! I know you are capable to walk in this truth and Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue peace with all men.” May the Lord bless you as you allow your children the opportunity to honor all generations! I have seen family relations improved by the relationship grandchildren have with their grandparents so keep the bridges open!

 
 

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