Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

For I Was Hungry…

My maternal great grandfather sought refuge in this country, searching for work, an income. My paternal great, great, great grandfather sought refuge in this country to escape religious persecution.

Today, many seek refuge in this United States of America due to fear of violence, gangs, drug cartels, dictators, and so much more.

Inside the lower pedestal of The Statue of Liberty is this sonnet by Emma Lazarus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”[11]

This poem was written as a donation for an auction of art and literary works[3] conducted by the “Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty” to raise money for the pedestal’s construction. “Bartholdi’s gigantic effigy was originally intended as a monument to the principles of international republicanism, but ‘The New Colossus’ reinvented the statue’s purpose, turning Liberty into a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world.”[16]. The swarms of immigrants knocking on the Eastern shore of this United States quickly turned the statue into a welcoming-harbor greeter.

So I write this with a heavy heart which I have held for years, more so, these past four years. I have seen pictures of migrants, refugees, young, old, with all range of skin shade pigmentation standing, crying, grasping, yelling, crawling, swimming, climbing, and drowning to get into this country. Babies and children of all ages torn from parents’ arms. Four years later, we have 628 children (now) whose parents cannot be found (although just this past week of December 1, 2020, knowledge of phone numbers has been brought to our attention). Even though, my heart breaks. Tears roll down my face as I type these words.

This is not the America that my grandparents sought those many years ago.

Yes, we have had problems throughout our history. We have lived with segregation, racial injustice, the KKK. Women have had to fight for the right to vote, for equal pay, for the ability to obtain a job that once only men held. We had the Civil War…the South against the North. We have taken land and rights from Indigent Peoples. Yes, this nation is far from perfect.

My great, great grandfather was Italian. He was not liked by the immigrants who came before the Italians. I have Irish immigrants and Scottish immigrants as my kin. They were not liked by their predecessors. It seemed like each group wanted to close the gates, not allowing anyone else in to this country. (This still happens as people move from state to state or area to area, desiring to close the gate once they have found a beautiful place.).

Yet, my mother grew up in Chicago at the turn of the last century in a neighborhood made up of Italians, Irish, Russians, Polish, Jewish, Catholics, Protestants. They loved one another. My grandmother even raised the 6 Bates girls who became orphans when both Russian parents died. Grandma was Irish/English/German. Mama loved to help a widow and her daughter make dinner because the food was Jewish, something different from her own fare. During the Depression, if a family could afford to make bread or soup or both, they would share with those who did not have enough. It was the way it was on Mama’s block of immigrants.

The United States of America seems not to be the UNITED states in some substantial aspects. We are broken.

That melanin of the skin is so distinguishable, not only by black and brown and white, but red and blue, bigot and humanitarian, racist/supremacist and equalitarian/humanitarian, and on and on!

Upon looking up the antonyms of several words, I found “bigot” to mean “one who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.” Words of opposite definition of “bigot” include: liberal, moderate, conservative, middle-of-the-road, militant. Does that not cover just about all of us? So how can we all come from various and unique backgrounds and be a united people? The real question is…how can we NOT?

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

I want to love unconditionally. That is hard. But I want to.

I desire to be united with my brothers and sisters, my neighbors, my church family. Speaking out about concerns and issues can bring unrequested wrath from people I love. I do not handle that well. AT ALL!

God has called us to love.

By His Word, God leads us in the ways in which He wants us to walk. Again and again! …

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You?  And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:31-40

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

To keep oneself unstained from the world” … “to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”… oh, I need Your help, Father. Please hold me still, guarding the words of my mouth, whether verbally or through the written word. I am sorry for words I have uttered recently that drew unexpected words from others. Forgive me, LORD, even though they were words I am feeling. I need to not be drawn into these worldly concerns. Your ways are infinitely better, LORD. Infinitely. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:9-10

learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
Isaiah 1:17

Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Father God, I am sorry for those times and situations when I betrayed You because I did not love, did not give, did not do unto You for I did not do unto the least of those in need. I am truly sorry. As I walk through life for the remainder of my days, please guide my steps, my words, and my actions…that I would be obedient to Your call. I know through my mother’s own stories of our relatives that times were not always easy being a stranger in a strange land. I also know through my mother’s voice that people did learn to get along, to love one another, to wrap their arms around everyone no matter the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their temperament. She taught me and my sisters to love as You teach us. I pray for this nation and this world. I pray for the emigrants who have left their home country and are desiring to enter a new country, possibly the USA. I pray, that one day soon, the opportunity, the gates, will be opened to them. I pray for the DACA children/adults who were brought into the USA innocently with a parent and have known only the United States as their home. I pray for those 628 children who are still in custody in the United States whose parents cannot be found. You know where every single one is. Please unite those precious children with their parents, LORD. They are lambs who need the Shepherd to reunite them with those who bore them. I pray for everyone who is running away from a scary, violent situation who need a new home. Father, You know each one of them around the world. I ask You to guide us as a people to wrap our arms around them. I pray all in the Name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

[11] The New Colossus – Lehman, David, ed. (2006). The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Oxford University Press. p. 184. OCLC 62697134

[3] Sutherland, Cara A (2003), The Statue of Liberty: The Museum of the City of New York, Barnes & Noble, p. 77, ISBN0-7607-3890-4auction of art and literary work; Mark Twain also contributed.

[16] Auster, Paul (2005), “NYC = USA”, Collected Prose: Autobiographical Writings, True Stories, Critical Essays, Prefaces, and Collaborations with Artists, Picador, p. 508, ISBN0-312-42468-X.

Graphic of Mark 12:30-31: https://www.heartlight.org

Graphic of Matthew 25: https://www.alittleperspective.com/february-04-bible-reading-2020/

Graphic of James 1:27: https://www.heartlight.org

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

My Citizenship is in Heaven

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Then she gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”  Exodus 2:22

גָּר

ger

alien, sojourner, foreigner

living in a strange land among strange people; anyone who is not native to a given land or among a given people


As a side note:

גֵּרְשֹׁם

Gershom

a stranger there, foreigner, expulsion

Look at the two Hebrew letters of this second word on the right.  Those two letters are identical to the first word (made of only those two letters).  These two words are interconnected.  The Israelites were bondservants in Egypt at this time.  This land was not the one God had given them.  Moses named his son by the experience he and Zipporah were having at that time.

As strangers in a strange land, as the King James version reads, I am feeling that today in my home country.  I do not know what the future is nor will be in the United States of America nor in this world.

strange-land

Yet, one thing I do know is that I am God’s and He is my Father.  He is with me and asks me to trust Him.  I will.  I do.  I am trusting Him.  There are a few, maybe many, of my steps when I forget and fall into the traps of this world.  I do not want that for myself nor anyone else.  He will pick me up and set me aright as I stay near to Him.

May I trust in You, God of all creation, every minute of every day, and not lean on my own understanding nor that of men and women of this world.  You are the One to Whom I place my trust.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify on the day of visitation.  Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by Him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the emperor.   1 Peter 2:11-17

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

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If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.   Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

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For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.   Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to HimselfPhilippians 3:18-21

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Father, I am Yours.  I draw near to You as You draw near to me.  I want to remember the passport to Heaven that is in my hands as I travel this earth for the remainder of my days.  I am truly grateful for this privilege for I am a sojourner here.  When I asked Jesus to be my LORD and Savior, told Him I believed He had died for me and was resurrected after three days, I became His.  The Holy Spirit has come to live inside of me to teach me Your ways, guide me along the paths of righteousness, and to intercede for me, to pray for me, “with groanings too deep for words.”  I thank You, Father.  I pray that I honor You in all ways even when it may be difficult in these worldly affairs.  I want to walk in Your will, LORD.  May this be so.  LORD, I lift up every country in Your world to You…that citizenry and governmental leadership of each will turn to You, acknowledge You as the One and Only God.  I pray for wisdom among the leaders, lovingkindness among us all.  I pray for calm and care to prevail around the world, between countries, as well as within borders of each country.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

passport

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This World is not My Home:  https://www.pinterest.com/jimmcavoy/i-am-a-citizen-of-heaven/

Black and White photo: https://terryburridge.wordpress.com/

Do Not Be Shaped… : http://www.crossmap.com/devotionals/are-you-citizen-of-earth-or-heaven-16983

Set Your Mind… : https://www.pinterest.com/pin/238127899019893582/

Sun shining through… I added words):  http://www.rarewallpapers.com/sun-shining-through-the-clouds.html

Passport Clipart:  http://canada.um.dk/en/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Sojourner

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“You shall not oppress a sojourner.  You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.  Exodus 23:9

גָּר

ger

properly, a guest; by implication, a foreigner:—alien, sojourner, stranger

a person living out of his own country

foreign shepherds, nomadic tribes wandering about in the land

I have been a wanderer much of my life.  I was born into a Navy family, Daddy being a Navy doctor and officer.  We changed duty stations about every two to four years, but he died early in life.  By the age of thirteen, I was no longer a traveler via the United States Navy.

But my mother loved to travel.  She packed us onto a train one Christmas to spend the holiday with her family in Chicago.  When we moved away from the Washington, D.C. area after Daddy died, she took about six weeks to go from the nation’s capitol to San Diego, California.  We stopped to visit friends and family and to see just about every sight she could find along the route.  Many Fridays after school, she would tell us kids, “Pack a suitcase because we are going to ….”  (wherever she had decided to go for the weekend) and we did!

Even in college, I was blessed with one whole semester aboard World Campus Afloat (now called Semester at Sea), traveling from port to port – South America, Africa, and Europe.  What an experience, gaining 14 college credit hours!

I became an adult and that wanderlust was still there.  I settled down for wee bits of time, but found new jobs, moved to where I would want to be or transferred and then I would find a teaching job (or something new).  Mom had told me, before college, that I would always be able to find a teaching job if I would go to college to become a teacher.  I did and found her wisdom was almost always true!

I have sojourned hither and yon.  I was a stranger or a guest most everywhere I went, at least for a time.

The LORD watches over the sojourners;
He upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin.  Psalm 146:9

Then one day, 23+ years ago, I came to know Christ Jesus.  I found that my heart had a home.  My heart belonged to Him and I would travel this earth as a sojourner, a pilgrim, yet had a real Home in Heaven.  I may wander more on this earth, in this life.  As long as I stay close to Jesus, I will not feel as an alien.  I am by His side and know my true Home.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.   Genesis 12:1

Abram left his home and sojourned in many countries among many peoples.

Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.  From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east.  And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the Name of the LORD.  Genesis 12:7-8

Abram built altars in remembrance of all that God was doing for him and his descendants, for the covenants He made with Abram, for guidance as God took them from place to place.

“Set up road markers for yourself; make yourself guideposts; consider well the highway, the road by which you went.  Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities.” Jeremiah 31:21

What kind of road markers, guideposts am I leaving to remind me of what God has done in my life?

  • my salvation – God blessed me with forgiveness and a new life in Christ.  I built a written altar in my journal along with the date of this momentous event.  I praise God for my salvation.
  • marriage to Kenneth, the husband God gave to me – I have a written altar of this beautiful date, a marriage license as well as the life he and I have built together.  We try to live as an altar unto God.
  • blessed me with parents who loved me; allowed me to care for my mother in her last fifteen years – another written guidepost, one which I have been blessed to share through Being Woven as well; my journal of many days throughout those years filled with the sweet memories of Mama.  The hard times are written there and are important too.
  • sisters who are caring and loving toward me – Thank You, LORD.  – my road mark is the love we share now, along with the memories through words and pictures, road markers in my mind and heart of when we were children together.
  • and many, many more!

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not Thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.  Psalm 39:12

Father God, Thank You for dwelling with me as I journey through this world.  Each day is new as I listen for Your voice.  Thank You for directing me from one place to the next.  I pray that I am aware of Your nearness, LORD.  Thank You for comforting me, for guiding me, for loving me.  Build my strength each day, Father, so that I may walk in obedience and humbly.  Thank You for Your Presence in my life.  I love You so.  I am a sojourner.  Yes, I was born in the country in which I live, but anywhere on this earth is not my true home.  With You, in Heaven, …my real and only Home.  Thank You LORD.  I pray in the Name of Your Son Jesus.  Amen.

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Photo and quote:  https://mybible.com/ and https://billygraham.org/