The Good Shepherd

Jesus Lamb of God

Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Who is Jesus Christ?  We learn in the Scriptures, He is the Son of God, Our Savior, The Lamb of God, The Prince of Peace, The Coming King, The Good Shepherd, to name a few. I want to focus on Him as The Good Shepherd, The Lamb of God, and our Savior, as we commemorate His resurrection.

Sadly, for this to happen, Jesus had to go through the agony of suffering on the cross.  This is the reason He came into the world, to die for us, to save us from our sin.  Through the Lenten season we reflect on this gruesome event. Thankfully, because He was willing to suffer for us, we now can embrace His resurrection and victory over sin. He is alive! 

Jesus already laid down His life for us, so now He takes up His role as The Good Shepherd to keep us in His flock. His love and care for us did not end on the cross!  What is a shepherd? A shepherd is a person who cares for, tends and guards his sheep. He will even lay down His life for the sheep.  Furthermore, we think of a person who protects, guides and watches over others as a shepherd. In the following Bible verse Jesus tells us, Himself, that He is The Good Shepherd.  

 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”  John 10:11-15(NKJV)  

This is something to celebrate.  He cares for us; we are His sheep. He rose from the dead for this purpose. Because He lives, we have hope, we are not alone.  In Hebrews 13:5, Jesus tells us: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Moreover, His love for us is not a superficial love, but a love of great depth.  He loves us each so much that if just one of us was lost, He would have still come and died for our sin alone.  See the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:10-14 (NKJV):

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.  For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think?  If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?  And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” 

This brings me to the featured photo of the stained-glass window. I really enjoy these windows. Stained-glass windows are so engaging; they tell a story with their pictures alone. They truly are a unique form of art. Sadly; it is a form of the past.

  This alluring stained-glass window is in St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ogdensburg, NY.  It is one of the many beautiful windows on display there.

 Jesus, The Good Shepherd, is fully expressed for us in this stained-glass window. Here we see Jesus holding a staff in one hand, while holding a lamb in His other.  The lamb He is holding is that one lost lamb. We also see He is out and about in a pasture, keeping watch over the rest of His flock as well.  Jesus, The Lamb of God, our Good Shepherd portrayed well, without any words needed! 

On this resurrection day embrace The Good Shepherd, let Him guide your life. Rejoice!

Happy Easter

© Denise L. Calandra

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement.

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Could It Be Something Like This?

Many of us have heard stories from people who were close to death.  They tell about their experience of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  There have been quite a number of these accounts in near-death situations. This is definitely a reassurance how God is there and is REAL. 

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to see this light?  When visiting Whiteface Mountain, in The Adirondacks of New York, to get to the top of the mountain; you must walk through the tunnel pictured above.  As I stood at the entrance to this tunnel, I couldn’t help but think about, “The Light at the end of the tunnel!”  Could it be something like this? I need to follow the light.

In life, we face many different circumstances. In some of them, we may long for the end of the problem to arrive.   We might have to endure for a longer time than we like.  The expression “There is light at the end of the tunnel,” is used to help us get through.  If we put our trust in God, we always have hope.  Keep looking to the Lord, He is the light of the world.  He tells us this in John 8:12 (NKJV). 

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

At this moment in time, we are waiting upon the Lord to calm the storm of illness from spreading its destruction any further.   We all have many emotions to deal with during this crisis.  We must go to God and His word to get His faithful reassurance.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:17-18(NKJV)

           “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Keep looking to the Lord, our light, and get through the tunnel confidently.  God Bless and be well. 

©Denise L Calandra

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement.

In Jesus Name, The Lord, Our Strong Tower.

For This Purpose I came Into The World

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10 (NKJV)

The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona, surely is a representation of Jesus our strong tower.  What a joy to have been able to view this in person.   The cross is predominating; you really can’t miss it!  It is upright in its glory for all to clearly see.

The Cross is a symbol of joy, love, peace, grace, hope, mercy, salvation, safety and so much more.  Ultimately, it stands for the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. This is, of course, all wonderful for us; however, it goes much deeper than this. The joy, love, sacrifice and all of what I mentioned above are the result of the willingness of the “Son of God” to endure this ordeal.  The other side of the story had to take place for this symbol to mean so much to us.

Let us consider the “other side of the story,” as we are in the Lenten season.  During this time, we need to reflect and consider all that Jesus endured for us. Without His willingness to tolerate this pain, we would not have the glorious Resurrection Day, Easter, to celebrate.

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour.’ But for this purpose, I came to this hour.  ‘Father, glorify your name.’” John 12:27-28 (NKJV)

Jesus was aware, His entire life, of the reason He was sent to earth and all that He would go through.  Actually, He foreknew before His earthly existence, yet He still came to die for us.  He bore this burden for our salvation.

“And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly.  Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44 (NKJV)

The physical suffering and agony that He was put through, is greater than any of us could ever imagine. As a matter of fact, it was unbearable.  We focus on this aspect more, but what about the emotional suffering He experienced?  He prayed and literally sweated drops of blood over His upcoming fulfilling of purpose.  I believe the emotional was even more unbearable than the physical.  Consider this, Jesus the Son of God, part of the trinity, in heavenly bliss with His Father, knowing no sin, became sin for us and was separated from God.  This caused Him to cry out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”   Matthew 27:46 (NKJV)

Ponder this, He was physically whipped, tortured, beaten, mocked, shamed, crucified; and then He was separated from God, as the sin of the world fell on Him.  This was the ultimate agony that He endured for us. Yes, The Cross, is a symbol of joy, love, peace, grace, hope, mercy, salvation, safety and so much more. Prayerfully, we will never forget the reason why.  All this leads us to Easter, Resurrection Day!  Hallelujah, thanks be to our God!

For a full detailed account of Jesus’ suffering go to: inspirationalcorner.blog/easter, it is an inspirational read.  I highly recommend it. 

© Denise L. Calandra

Clap Your Hands, Give Praise To God Our Creator!

Lift up our eyes and hands to God

While having the opportunity to explore the coastal areas of Alaska, I was pleasantly surprised.  I had the enjoyment of experiencing nature in its purest form.  It caused me to consider how the world might have looked, as God was creating it. It was overwhelmingly, awe-inspiring for me.  God’s creation is awesome! What a blessing; truly, this was a refreshing adventure.  I wonder what beauty lies further inland.  That waits for a future endeavor.

Looking upon this forest of trees, I began to sense the abundance of God.  He is not a small God, but wonderfully unlimited in all He has to offer us.  The thought, nothing is too hard for God, comes to mind.  He tells us this in Jeremiah 32:27 (NKJV):

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh.  Is there anything too hard for Me?”  

Sometimes in our busy life, we need to step back, take a long deep breath, and give God all the praise and worship due to Him. We need to learn from His creation of nature.  Look closely at all the trees in the picture above, they are focused upward, to the heavens.  They know whom their creator and God is. They have no problem giving Him the glory and praise due to Him!  What about us?  Do we struggle in this?

I had no intention of talking about the situation the entire world finds itself in, at present.  However, this is a unique problem.  COVID-19 is affecting every nation and the way we all live our lives. Suddenly, the world seems a lot smaller.  We are all connected, and most definitely, dependent on God, the creator of all. So, is this our time to all take pause and reflect on what really matters? Perhaps it is time to put aside our differences, along with the hate and fear. This only divides us more. The two following scriptures remind us of who and what is important.

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the Lord.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NKJV)

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, The Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NKJV)

Despite all that is going on in this world, remember God is still in control. We are His creation; He wants us to take time to know and to praise Him!  Be like the trees, look unto God.  Praise Him in all things.  Be safe and stay well.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1 (NKJV)

© Denise L Calandra

Your Faith, Being Much More Precious Than Gold- Photograph of A Sunny Snowy Day

A Sunny Snowy Day

It was a pleasure to experience this awe-inspiring scene one chilly winter day.  Despite the cold, barren setting, the brightly shining sun, gave out such a sense of warmth.  Even though it was a snowy wintry day, the sun illuminated the entire area, covering it with a blazing glow. It appeared to be setting the trees on fire.  It was an extraordinary sight to behold!  I call it, “A Sunny Snowy Day.” The scripture in 1 Peter 1:7 (NKJV) tells us:

“That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 

How is your faith?  Are you in a struggle?  Are you fighting through various trials and temptations?  Does the light seem to be going out or flickering?  In James 1:2-4 (NKJV) we get inspiration to carry on.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”   

Do we count it all JOY?  Are we pressing on to the prize?  We do not always see the working of God in us to grow our faith.  He may use our situations, in life, to help us realize what really matters.  Your FAITH is more precious than GOLD! Keep your faith, let it shine forth in all things, not just the good times. Your surroundings and situations should not matter. 

Look unto Him, the “SON”.  The “SON” is always there, no matter what season or place we are, in our life.  As a child of God, we need to let Him be our refiner, purifier, and polisher. Let God’s perfect design for you shine forth. Let your FAITH in the SON glow.  May God set us on fire, as He completes His work in each of us!

©Denise L. Calandra   

God’s Colorful Promise

I set My rainbow in the cloud.

People tend to get excited when they see a rainbow. “Hey, look there is a rainbow!” “Wow, I just saw a rainbow!” “That rainbow was so awesome!”  These might be some thoughts exclaimed upon seeing a rainbow.  Have you ever wondered why it brings this reaction?  Yes, it is a beautiful, colorful and wonderful sight to envision.   However, maybe the reason we get such delight goes much deeper than this. Perhaps, deep inside we know it is a reminder of God’s love and promise to us.

“I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”  Genesis 9:13 (NKJV)

Let us remember God created us in the beginning, in His image.  Sadly, it didn’t take long for mankind to sin and fall from God’s grace.  God was repentant, sorry, that He had created us.

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah.  Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:5-9 (NKJV)

God decided to destroy all, through a flood covering the whole earth. Thankfully, Noah found grace in His sight. God allowed Noah and his family to be saved, by entering the ark. This became their home and provision for safety throughout the flood. When the waters receded and land was visible, Noah and his family got off the ark. God made a beautiful rainbow in the sky. He said this was a sign of His promise to mankind, which is not to destroy the earth by a flood again. 

 “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.  It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud.” Genesis 9: 11-14 (NKJV)

Upon seeing a rainbow, we are mindful of God’s love and grace. We also are reminded of God’s promise to mankind. Let us realize the rainbow goes all the way back to the flood with Noah. The fact that the rainbow is still in existence today shows us that God and His word are real! God keeps His word and can be trusted. This truly is a joy and comfort. What a colorful promise indeed! So, the next time you are enjoying the sight of a rainbow, never forget God’s promise and love for us. Honestly, this is the pot of gold. It is greater than anything the gold could ever buy. Rejoice and be glad. Enjoy!   

I Am The Vine, Abide in Me

Abide in Him, He is faithful and will be with you always.

It is the winter, a season of cold and dreary weather.  The trees are bare and empty. However, they still reach out their branches to heaven and stand strong.  God is shining through; His love and light are ever radiating.  Whatever season you are in, in your life, or no matter what situation you are going through, you are never alone.  God says He is the vine and we are the branches. He also tells us that we need to abide in Him for us to bear fruit, to have success. If we abide in Him, He abides in us. It is this working together, in the right relationship, that produces a good result.  He is faithful and will be with you.  His love and light enfold all who welcome Him.  In the verse John 15:5, it says without Him we can do nothing. We need Him and He wants us.

“I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5(NKJV)

Do not let this get you down that you can do nothing without Him. I would not want to be without Him because He is our sustainer.  God does not leave us helpless. The Bible tells us that we can do all things through Him.  He is our hope, and that should comfort and strengthen us.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Let His love and light enfold you. Abide in Him.

If we abide in Him, He abides in us.

© Denise L Calandra

God’s Grace Our Hope

If along the way you encounter choppy times, stand firm, keep going, keep The Cross before you always.

Whatever you face in life, in this world, keep your eyes on The Cross. With the Cross before us, we can never lose. Because of God’s Grace, we have Hope.

Listed below are some scriptures that tell us this truth.

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Romans 5:8 (NKJV) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

1 Peter 2:24-25 (NKJV) “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

John 3:16 (NKJV) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Matthew 10:38 (NKJV) “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

Matthew 11:28 (NKJV) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 16:24 (NKJV) “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'”

Keep your eyes looking up to where your help comes from. There is hope and grace in Christ.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV) “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

© Denise L. Calandra

Renew and Refresh Your Soul

Take the time, be still or dormant for a season, then the refreshing will come.

Many of us would not consider the winter season to be refreshing, as said in Proverbs 25:13.  Living in the north country of New York, I had to learn to deal with winter.  Winter is the longest season up here.  It can be extremely cold, very snowy and yes quite long to endure.  Since most of the time is spent indoors, using it wisely for a season of refreshing, or better said as renewing, is helpful.  Actually, this is a scriptural principle.

Ephesians 4:23(NKJV) tells us, “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”   

There are the seasons of busyness in our lives, all throughout our years.  Taking a “time out”, being dormant or still is needed to grow and gain renewed strength.  Let us learn from nature around us.

John 12:24(NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”

The pictures of the grass, wheat, and plant appear to be dead or barren.  The river is frozen; it’s very still.  They all seem to be in a state of uselessness, when really, they are resting and refueling for the next season of fruitfulness.  Whether a beautiful flower to behold or a delicious fruit to eat, they are busy preparing to emerge again. It is hard work, and the dormant season is necessary. They are being still, resting so they can be revived once again.

Do we take time to be still?  God tells us in His word,

“Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10 (NKJV).

I look at winter as a “time out”; a time to reflect, prepare and refuel.  We also can be ready for the busier seasons ahead. A day of lightly glittering, quietly falling snow can be peaceful and cleansing.   It is a beautiful sight to behold.  Being still and enjoying the wonderful beauty winter has to offer can help bring renewal and refreshment to your soul.

Thoughts, Resolutions, Pondering and Contemplation…As we consider a New Year Ahead.

Consider all that may be ahead. A vast amount of opportunity lies before us.

Looking out from Whiteface Mountain, we see hills, valleys, waterways; what an endless display of natural beauty. It can bring peacefulness to us, as we behold such grandeur. We clearly can see all the landscape in front of us. Thinking forward, at this point, consider that we cannot see into our future and know all that will befall us; as we travel on our life journey.  However, we can carefully consider and contemplate the paths and choices that are ahead.  Thoughtfully pondering the situations before us, can help us to choose wisely our direction.

Yes, a “New Year” is once again upon us; actually, it is in full swing. Sometimes we think about it as a time for a new beginning, a fresh start, or a change of some kind. We might reflect on the past and ponder as we consider our future. Thoughts about what was helpful in the last year may go through our minds. We also, might question ourselves about what wasn’t so useful. We can contemplate about both aspects; learn from them and make any changes that can be a benefit to us. We may even make a “New Year Resolution,” that many times we do not keep. Maybe, it has already been broken! 

There are many paths, roads, situations, challenges and choices that lie ahead for us this year. Let’s look at what some of these paths might be like.  Use these photos, below, to visualize some situations we may encounter. 

Some paths are leisurely and pleasant.

 Some paths or circumstances are challenging.

Other paths may be choppy or unsure.

There are ups and downs, highs and lows, along with twists and turns.

Some paths are clearly marked, others are not. Some are long, some lonely and dark. Other ways are busy and crowded and some definitely connect one place to another.

Paths have a destination, some lead us to safety, others don’t. Some are lighted along the way, others are not. There can be hope at the end of certain roads, if we choose wisely the road to take.

As we can see many things await us each year. Some will be very welcome; others may not. There will be countless choices and decisions for us to consider. It can be difficult or complicated as we navigate our way through the trials of life. We all will need great wisdom to help and guide us along. I go to God’s word, The Bible, and see what the scriptures say. There is a verse for every situation. My thoughts and reasons for this blog is to help us to thoughtfully consider and ponder what lies ahead and prayerfully contemplate wise choices. May God Bless you all this year ahead. Have a wonderful journey.

Below are a few verses to help. Go search for yourself, there is an endless supply of wisdom available to you. Seek the words of the Lord. Happy travels.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills-From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1 NKJV

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 NKJV

“Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:26-27 NKJV

© Denise L. Calandra