Shadows

Are you living in the shadow of your past?

Shadows”, in life we all have them. These are two different pictures taken and put together as a double exposure. In doing this a shadowing affect was created. By shadows, I am referring to our past, that seems to keep following us. Ironically, these pictures were taken of my husband and myself, on a dock in our home town; where surely lies most of our past.

I am not saying that we need to forget or disregard all of our past, it helps define who we are. However, as a believer in Christ, there is a past that we definitely need to be rid of. It just bogs us down and creates problems. We are not meant to carry these burdens once we come to the Lord. This is the beautiful thing about the salvation God graciously gives to us.

“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.”
1 Peter 2:24 NKJV

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

“Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”
Psalm 55:22 NKJV

We must understand all that God has done for us through His salvation in order to walk as He wants us to. Christ died for our sins and forgives us, because all have sinned and need a savior. See John 3:16-17 and Romans 3:23.

“ 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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
John 3:16-17 NKJV

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Romans 3:23 NKJV

A key factor for us to remember is that God, not only forgives our sins, but He also forgets them. We are the ones who do not forget our past sins and punish ourselves, over and over, causing our past to control us. It “shadows” our daily lives, hindering our growth as new creations in Christ. God died to free us from these burdens. He does not want us burdened in this way. This makes us live ineffective lives.

“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 8:12 NKJV

“Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 10:17 NKJV

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.”
Isaiah 43:25 NKJV

“I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Isaiah 44:22 NKJV

There is so much to consider, yet still, there is so much more He has done for us. Let us now complete this with the thought of how God gives us newness of life. How are you doing? How are you walking in that? We seem to live such effectiveless lives. Don’t let your past sins haunt or hinder you. God forgives and forgets, so we also, need to forgive ourselves and forget our sins to go forward in newness of life. Stop dredging up the past and learn to live in His mercy and grace. It starts within ourselves; stop the “shadows “ from following you in your life now! Believe and trust His word and promises.

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
Isaiah 1:18 NKJV

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Romans 6:4 NKJV

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

©️ Denise L. Calandra 2022

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement!

The shadow picture is available to purchase on picfair.com. See link below.

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

Through Good Times and Hard The Light Shines On

The light shines in the darkness to guide the way.

The Light shines in the darkness, And the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

We are all familiar with Lighthouses. I remember learning that the first lighthouse dates back to over 2,000 years ago. They were and are used as navigational aids, helping sailors navigate through the seaways. Many of the early forms of lighthouses were just bonfires set on beaches along the shore. Sadly, over time lighthouses have become somewhat obsolete with the advances in technology. Lighthouses still stand in many places and are a reminder and a comfort to sea going ships, even if they are not technically needed.

This particular lighthouse, in the photo, stands on Lighthouse Point, where The Oswegatchie River flows into The Saint Lawrence River, along The Saint Lawrence Seaway. Although not officially in commission it has been restored by the owner, who lives in the house. In October of 2011 the lighthouse was relit as a tribute to its history. Once again all the many large ships that travel this seaway can see and enjoy the light.

We find ourselves sailing through another year, we refer to it as “A New Year.” It lies before us fresh like a blank book, just waiting for us to fill in the pages, as we navigate our way. There is so much unknown ahead, we surely need guidance to help us.

As the sailor set out upon the open seaways, the lighthouses directed them. They stood steadfast, they were their light in the darkness, marking the pathway and warning them of danger. We, like the sailors, can use all the guidance and direction we can get, as we venture out into the unknown before us. Thankfully, we have God,the creator of all, to call upon. We are not left alone to get through our passage on earth. Do not let Him become past tense.

As I contemplated the plight of the lighthouse, I thoughtfully considered our dilemma in a world where technology takes center stage. Has God become somewhat second place or worse yet, obsolete to us, as our guide. This is a great danger. Has technology, social media, the meta verse, the cloud, with all its capabilities, distractions, attractions and gadgets caused the need for the true light of the world, our Lord, to grow dim? Let this not become the case!!

God tells us, in His word, to look unto Him. He is the light of the world. He is the way maker and He will never leave us nor forsake us, we need to heed His word. Let us regard the following scripture verses.

John 8:12 “ I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (NKJV)

Isaiah 43:16 “Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, And a path through the mighty waters” (NKJV)

Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (NKJV)

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (NKJV)

Proverbs 3:6 “ In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)

John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (NIV)

Heed His word!! Do not let the ways of the world take the place of God. Do not let His light grow dim in these unsettling times. We need Him even more than ever. Never let Him become obsolete in our lives. He is the only true light of the world. Reach out today, He is waiting.

©️Denise L. Calandra 2022

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement!

The lighthouse photo is available to purchase on picfair.com. See link below.

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com/

Changes

Are you caught in a time of change? Life is full of them. We can learn and grow from them all, good or bad.

How do you look at change? Life is full of them. Some changes are good, which we openly welcome. Others we find not so pleasant and are not as eager to embrace them. Regardless, in this life, there will always be changes for us to face.

This photo shows a flower going through a conversion process. It is not the more familiar process, which shows new life bursting forth, like in spring. The flower is going from a season of full glory to a dormant stage, a time to rest. The flower loses the color it had and quietly fades away. Yet it does not lose heart! Hibernation helps to protect the plant through the frigid winter season, so once again, it will thrive. During this period, the roots continue to develop and grow, enabling the flower to appear again.

We too, as humans, need to learn from the plants and the process God has put in place. When going through a change point in life it is okay, and even a necessity, to step back. God may have pulled you out for a season to reflect, to rest, study and renew oneself and emerge stronger than before.

God speaks to us through His word. Let us examine scripture verses to see what God has to say concerning this.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 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 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 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.”

Do not fear or resist the change God has for you. Let go of the old and allow the new to emerge. God, in His way, does not want us to get too comfortable, change is a way He uses to guide us on. He wants us to embrace all He has for us. Remember, we are just passing through and the best is yet to come. Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. God Bless You!

© Denise L. Calandra 2021

Photo available at: https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

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.

The Greatest Gift Of All

God Sent His Son This Is True Love

The glowing warmth and radiance of God reaches down to us.  This is a marvel to behold!  Let us consider how glorious heaven must be.  In the picture, we capture a burst of God, just a glimpse of His grandeur, which He allows us to see.  The glory of God is glowing brightly for us to grasp.  God is yearning for us to turn our hearts toward Him.  We, as humans, have fallen from grace. We need a Savior! Although we may feel the need to hide ourselves from God, He still reaches out to us.  The rays radiating toward us symbolize God extending His love and forgiveness.  How does He do this?  He does this by sending His son to earth.

“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.” John 3:16(NKJV)

Let us take a moment and turn this verse over in our thoughts.  We are in great need and God, in His love for us, sent the greatest gift of all, His only Son.  He gave Himself fully to take the punishment we deserve.  This is Christmas, Christ with us.  As we give our loved one’s gifts, let us also lift our eyes and hearts to Him. God gave His Son as the greatest gift to us.  Therefore, we can give Him our hearts, as our finest gift to Him.  This is the true gift exchange.  

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”    John 1:14

To God Be The Glory

In Everything Give Thanks

Looking Into The Heart Of God

While taking this photo, through the trees, I was trying to capture a feeling of depth and continuance. The opening in the trees forms a heart shape. It draws you into a continuity that stretches quite far. There is a ceaseless depth to God, which stretches into eternity.  Looking through these trees, is like looking into the heart of God.

Thankfulness came upon me as I pondered the awe of God and His unending love for us. This led me to consider the thoughts of being appreciative and giving thanks. What is being thankful? I think it is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for someone or something.  Being thankful should not be just a one-day event. Thankfulness really is a state of mind. Perhaps, looking deeper, we can even say it is our very being.   In the Bible, God tells us to be thankful.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18(NKJV)

It very explicitly says, “In everything give thanks!” This doesn’t mean, in some things, but EVERYTHING or better yet, IN ALL THINGS! Let us truly give thanks to God for all He has done and is doing for us; let it not last only for “Thanksgiving Day” but be continuous without ceasing.  Enjoy and God Bless you and your families as we reflect on our blessings this Thanksgiving Day.

© Denise Calandra

God Continually Renews And Refreshes

You Shall Be Like A Watered Garden

Be renewed and be refreshed; God is always there.  He is continually flowing in us, taking care of our being.  This photo is of a peaceful river with lovely green foliage thriving all around.  Along the riverside are purple flowering plants in bloom.  Looking at the setting in this picture brings about a relaxing sensation, a feeling that all is well and taken care of.  

“The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11 (NKJV)

The river is a ceaseless source of flowing water, which shows the perpetual love and out pouring from God to us.  Both are the seedbed for our refreshment and nourishment.  The richness of the river and its surroundings, reflect this.  Our lives, as well, are deeply enriched by His constant renewing and refreshing, which He desires for us.

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”   Ephesians 4:23-24 (NKJV)

Our Heavenly Father is the living God, our everlasting refreshment and flowing spiritual guide. He is the director of our life.  Read, reflect, meditate on His word; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.  Let Him, ever be your nourishment. To God be the glory!                             

Physical Reflections and Spiritual Reflections

Reflections

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”  James 1: 22-24 (NKJV)

There are physical reflections and there are spiritual reflections, for us to see.  Let’s look at the physical aspect of reflections.  We use mirrors to capture the physical aspect. Mirrors are used to reflect an image. When we look in a mirror, we might not always like the image that is staring back at us. We physically can see this. There might be some things that we can do to change our picture.  Perhaps, we need to smile.  A good brushing of the teeth could help. You might consider grooming your hair nicer.  Let us not forget a little make-up to the rescue! All of these affect our outside appearance. Although this isn’t the most important factor about us, it can help us to be more confident.  It is our storefront!

Now we want to focus on the spiritual reflection, which is the more important part of us; the actual product of the storefront. The Bible speaks to us about the inner self, the person we truly are. This is harder to be seen.  It can encompass what we believe, our thoughts, our desires, our reactions, our nature itself, for good or bad.  Although I say it is harder to be seen, believe me, what is on the inside, is reflected outward for others to see. What are you showing?

God’s mirror reflects the spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects of our life.  We use a glass mirror to show us our outside appearance.  What can we use to show us the spiritual reflection?  We need to use God’s Word, The Bible, as our inner mirror.  Think about this, God’s word is a guide for us to live by.  Are we learning and living what God teaches us in His word?  As it says in James 1: 22-24, we cannot just read the word; we must also do or live what it says, as well.  

 What are some of the reflections we should be able to see?  Let us look at Galatians 5: 22-25(NKJV): 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

How is your spiritual mirror?  Are you reflecting what is in God’s word?  We need to read, study and learn God’s ways.  Let the fruit of His Spirit flow in and out of you.  His light will beam forth; and reflect from you to others.   

He Will Not Leave You Nor Forsake You

Be Strong And Of Good Courage

Do you ever feel alone, afraid, helpless, hopeless, sad, stressed, discouraged or like giving up?  Sadly, this list could go on and on and on.  At times in life, we all can feel these emotions.  This isn’t necessarily bad; we are human.  However, when these feelings don’t go away quickly, and they seem to be overtaking us, is when they can become a problem or stronghold in our life.

In this photo, the tree is standing strong.  The branch is outstretched with the leaves hanging on.  The leaves don’t appear to be struggling, they appear to be relaxed and calm, we might say, trusting.  The branch reaches out, knowing it is being held up by the strength of the tree.  Again, we can use this as an example to show the trusting relationship needed for this to take place.  Now think about us and how this is a representation of us and our relationship to God. 

God is our strength. Do we allow Him to be it?  How are you doing?  Are you letting God be your strength?  Are you calmly resting and trusting Him in your life situation right now?  OR ARE YOU A STRESSED WRECK?                                                 

God tells us in Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV): 

“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”

In the background of this photo, the lighthouse stands with the light on.  This stands for God and His ever-loving steadfastness in our life.  The water is calmed for us by our God.                                                                                                             

 He tells us in Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV):

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

He tells us to be strong and courageous, to not be afraid.  God is always there watching over us.  Through everything, we can trust Him to light our way. We might feel like we are alone, but we are not, so don’t try to do it by yourself.  God did not at any time, intend for us to be on our own.  We read this fact all throughout scripture.  We are His creation, and He cares for us.  Let Him take the proper place in your life.  Together, you can withstand all the storms of life.  Remember, “He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Delight In The Lord

A Wonderfully Colorful Pathway

God is a colorful designer. This painted scene, is from a crisp autumn day, near The Saint Lawrence River. We delight in the wonder of the Lord, as His word tells us to in Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

This verse tells us to delight in the Lord. We can take joy, pleasure, contentment, happiness and so much more in our Lord.  Yes, we have every reason to delight in God. He is ever caring, in every area of our life. What a peaceful time it is to walk along this splendid pathway of color, reflecting on the fact that God created it for us to enjoy.  We see a glimpse of His unending creative beauty.  

Have you ever considered that God is delighting in you as well? Further along in Psalm 37, verse 23 we read just that.

“The steps of man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.”     Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)

When we let God guide our way, then He delights in us!  What a comfort to know He truly is concerned about us.  He cares for us!  Let Him direct your steps, so He may be delighted with you.  Take time to notice the beauty along your path in life. You only go through once.  Delight in the Lord!