EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise, Day 7, Hands Clapping

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands Clapping – Restoration & Victory

Psalm 47:1-3 – Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. He will subdue the peoples under us, and the nations under our feet.

Christ the King is our victory. As we shout praises and clap our hands, he stands up against injustice and rights the wrongs in our lives. Let us use a voice of triumph — one that speaks truth, victory, restoration and freedom — even in places of our lives that do not appear victorious. God is in control. Christ is on His throne.

Jeremiah 31 –  4 I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. … 12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD… 13 Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

As God redeems, rebuilds, and restores all the broken and wounded places in our lives, we will take up our tambourines, our instruments of praise, in order to dance with joyful celebration. He promises joy for our sorrow.

Putting It Into Practice

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Jesus came as our Restorer and Redeemer. Take some time remembering all he has done for you. Also think about the answers to prayer you are still in need of. Sometimes clapping in victory before we are actually victorious can bring about the change in the spiritual climate we need to have our prayers answered. In every situation, we clap and celebrate his goodness!!

You can clap your hands anytime, anywhere and any way you’d like (well, except maybe in a library, but you get my point). If you’d like you can clap along with today’s worship song and clap your hands, all ye people, as we celebrate his resurrection power! Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: On a Mission

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Scripture Reading: 

…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

…For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light…Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 4:30–5:2, 5:8-13, 5:15-20

Reflections:

Yesterday was our final message in our Lenten series through Ephesians. While I didn’t post the entire scripture passage above (due to space), feel free to read Ephesians 4:25–6:9. A large passage indeed, but we took a look from a distance and found three main ideas that pertain to a life of personal mission:

  1. Imitate Christ
  2. Live a life of character and integrity
  3. Make the most of your time

Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise, Day 6, Hands Flat

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Bowing Low, Prostrate with Hands Flat – Submitting

I Chronicles 29:20 – Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the LORD your God.” So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king.

I Kings 18:38-39 – (Elijah) Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD – he is God! The LORD – he is God!”

As we worship, we recognize His holiness (and our unworthiness) and we bow low before a God who is worthy to be honored. In the Ancient Near East, a  vassal treaty was a treaty between two kings – one more powerful than the other. The lesser king presented himself as a vassal by bowing low before the more powerful king.  To prostrate oneself before another is an act of worship, and the vassal treaty is the picture of worship the Israelites would picture in their minds when they worshiped Yahweh. The Hebrew word is hishtacheveh, which relates to Greek word (proskuneo) that means kissing toward. But it is not an upward intimate kiss toward God, but a kissing the dirt or feet of God. The theological meaning is that God is the more powerful king and we are the less powerful king.

Psalm 95:6-7 – Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

As we bow down in worship before God, we come under his care. We are his people. He watches over us as a shepherd watches over his sheep, not letting a single one fall away. Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Unique yet Unified

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Scripture Reading:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.  Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.  For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.

He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. Eph 4:1-7


Reflections:

Right off the bat, here’s my confession… I wasn’t in church yesterday so this is not a reflection on our church’s sermon series in Ephesians… these are simply my own thoughts, musings and reflections…

I love the beautiful sway between individual giftings and corporate unity in this passage.

First, Paul is encouraging each of us in our unique gifts, to life a life worthy of our calling. The Message translates it like this:

I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!
—on the road God called you to travel. 

And it’s clear that each of us is given a special gift, a unique calling through the love, grace and mercy of a generous Savior! Every one of us has something unique to bring to the table, that only we can bring! If you are holding back your gift out of fear, insecurity or greed, then the table Jesus wants to set before us hasn’t been fully set! It’s incomplete without you!

On the other end of this pendulum sway is our unity. While our giftings and callings are individual, unique, and only ours, we cannot get caught up in thinking that our uniqueness is somehow better than someone else’s. Or if we are “further along” in figuring out and walking in our calling, that we are somehow better than another who isn’t quite as far along on the journey. We are to be bound together with peace, humbleness, gentleness, and patience. In our individualistic, have-it-my-way society and culture, that is quite a task, but possible through the work of the Holy Spirit living in and working through each of us and all of us!

The Voice translation also makes these notes about this passage:

Now that Paul has described the new world as God would have it, he urges believers to live out their callings with humility, patience, and love: to walk as Jesus walked. These are the ways of Jesus. Paul encourages them to do whatever it takes to hold onto the unity that binds people together in peace. He does not ask them to create that unity; this has already been accomplished through the work of the Rescuer and His Spirit. Rather, he calls believers to guard that unity—a more modest but no less significant task—because that unity is founded on God’s oneness and work in the world.

As we continue through Lent, I encourage you to walk the way that Jesus walked… with humility… with peace and unity… with patience. Consider the last days of Jesus here on earth… how he walked in complete humility… in complete obedience to the difficult calling of his life. Those around him were encouraging him to revolt against the Roman government, and he reacted with patience and understanding. And still… he walked the journey to Calvary with determination in obedience to the calling placed upon him.

The Message translation spurs us on to walk The Way of Jesus:

You were all called to travel on the same road
and in the same direction,
so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.
You have one Master,
one faith,
one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who rules over all,
works through all,
and is present in all.
Everything you are
and think
and do
is permeated with Oneness.

May we walk in our unique giftings and callings, and at the same time may we be united under Jesus—permeated with Oneness—through the power of the Holy Spirit! As a church we at Five Stones are being encouraged to walk in our unique personal missions. As we do so, we look to Jesus to also unify us as we each work to bring God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. May Christ be glorified as we do!

By the way, I have a very good reason for missing church yesterday: I am walking in my unique calling! I was setting up for a four day training I am leading on the effects of trauma on the brain and body and a therapeutic tool called Trauma Sensitive YogaFaith, a faith-based, Christ-centered approach to Trauma Sensitive Yoga. Won’t you pray for us that Jesus would meet us all in powerful ways during this time set aside to explore this healing tool? Are you uncertain how yoga can be used by Christians to help others? Only through the redeeming, reclaiming, resurrection power of Jesus Christ! Read more here.

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I hope you are also joining us on Wednesdays for the “7” series (the last 7 statements of Jesus from the cross in poetry, art and song) and on Fridays for the “Embodied” series as we move creatively through the Lenten season here at jodythomae.com. Previous posts in this Ephesians series can be found here:

Creative blessings, Jody

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(c) 2018 Jody Thomae
God's Creative Gift by Jody ThomaeJody Thomae is the author of God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You, a devotional book with Bible studies to nurture the creative spirit within and to serve as a resource for creative Christians, artists, musicians and worshippers. She has been involved in worship arts ministry since 1997, coordinating artistic involvement in church services and regional worship events through dance, drama, poetry and fine arts. She performs, teaches, choreographs, preaches, coordinates and leads workshops in the area of creativity, spirituality and embodied prayer. JodyThomaeCDcoverart_FA_printShe has also recently released a devotional CD, Song of the Beloved. Her passion is for the revelation of God to be made more real through the prophetic use of the arts in church and formational ministry. It is her desire to portray the message of Christ’s desperate and unfailing love for His people to help sustain the hearts of the broken and weary. Life scriptures include Psalm 27; Isaiah 50:4-7; and Zephaniah 3:14-17.

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise, Day 5, Hands to Heart

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands to Heart – Pondering/Treasuring

Job 23:12b – I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

Luke 2:16-20 – Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Treasuring and pondering means taking time to remember all God has done in your life, to consider what He has planned for your life, to look at those gifts/talents that are uniquely yours to do that which God has uniquely designed you for. It is being still and quiet before the Lord. 

Putting It Into Practice

This posture can be done standing, seated or kneeling. Psalm 46:10 says: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” As you bring bring your hands to your heart in a posture of stillness and prayer, take a moment to ask, “How is God exalted in my life?” As you explore this beautiful posture of prayer, ask God to make your heart His home. Take time to ponder and treasure all that he has done in your life. Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Reconciled for Reconciliation

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Scripture Reading: 

For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazingFor we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.

So never forget how you used to be. Those of you born as outsiders to Israel were outcasts, branded “the uncircumcised” by those who bore the sign of the covenant in their flesh, a sign made with human hands. You had absolutely no connection to the Anointed; you were strangers, separated from God’s people. You were aliens to the covenant they had with God; you were hopelessly stranded without God in a fractured world. But now, because of Jesus the Anointed and His sacrifice, all of that has changed. God gathered you who were so far away and brought you near to Him by the royal blood of the Anointed, our Liberating King.

He is the embodiment of our peace, sent once and for all to take down the great barrier of hatred and hostility that has divided us so that we can be one. He offered His body on the sacrificial altar to bring an end to the law’s ordinances and dictations that separated Jews from the outside nationsHis desire was to create in His body one new humanity from the two opposing groups, thus creating peace. Effectively the cross becomes God’s means to kill off the hostility once and for all so that He is able to reconcile them both to God in this one new body. The Great Preacher of peace and love came for you, and His voice found those of you who were near and those who were far away. By Him both have access to the Father in one Spirit. Eph 2:8-18 The VOICE

Reflections:

Our church is working through passages in Ephesians through the Lenten season, and yesterday our message was brought to us by ATS student Shauna Rushing. Shauna shared her testimony of answering an unexpected calling, revealing that sometimes our vision isn’t God’s vision. Paul is a perfect example of this. He was on a mission to eradicate all followers of the “The Way” (Christ-followers), but an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus  left him answering an unexpected calling, but one that was God’s vision for Paul’s life—a vision that included the reconciliation of two groups that stood opposed to one another—Jews and Gentiles. Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise, Day 4, Hands Together

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands Together – Prayer

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

When we are anxious, our hands are wringing, but notice the attitudes of thankfulness and watchfulness that are to accompany our prayers. It’s not about what He can give us, but acknowledging and being thankful for what He has already given us and being watchful to see how He will answer our prayers, sometimes in ways we don’t expect.

Putting It Into Practice

Palms together or folded/clasped together is a posture we typically think of when we think of a posture of prayer. This posture has been used by many religions as a posture of prayer, and there are some that even postulate that Jesus learned this prayer posture from Buddhist monks during his time as a young child in Egypt.

Palms together

This posture can be done standing, sitting or kneeling. With palms together, thumbs can come to your heart or your forehead. As you can see in this photo, my friend Amy is both kneeling and has prayer hands at her forehead. Continue reading