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!

I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes To God My Help

My Help Comes From God

The cruise ship stopped in Juneau, Alaska, after all this was an Alaskan cruise.  For most of the day, we explored the Juneau Mendenhall Glacier Park, which was awesome.  It almost appeared fake; the beauty was surreal.  Later that day, having a short time left before the ship was to set sail again, my husband and I decided to go up the tram in Juneau.   The view of The Alaskan Coastal Mountain range was overwhelming in stature, simply put; it was magnificent to behold! In seeing God’s amazing creation, the scripture that came to my mind was:

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121: 1-2 (KJV)

This area was pure untouched nature.  I would have loved to explore the entire region; sadly, there was not enough time.  However, in the short time that I was there, it made a lasting impression on me.  He made such an amazing place, as the world, for us to live on; as well as giving us His inspired word, for us to live by.  I know that He cares for us and will not at any time leave us nor forsake us.  He at no time wanted us to be separated from Him.

In His word, The Bible, God reassures us that He is our help.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”              Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

Whatever you are going through at this time, if your circumstances seem overwhelming and impossible, if you are in a dark, low place, Look Up To The Hills From Whence Comes Your Help!   You are not alone.

Be Still And Know That I Am God

Peaceful Winter Day

Up in the North Country of New York, we get to experience all four seasons.  Some places in the world do not get seasonal changes.  It can be nice to observe these seasonal transitions, as each time of year, has its own beauty.

The photo featured in this blog is during the season of winter.  Winter in the north is very long, cold and snowy.  Some winters are harsher than others. It can be difficult to get through to Spring. Many people choose to go to a warmer climate during the winter months. They are known as “Snowbirds. “

Although winter is not my favorite season, it does have some beauty to it that can be refreshing.  I look at winter as a time to rest and be renewed.  The weather causes us to do more inside activities.  We can think about it as a time out.  In God’s plan, things are dormant or in a state of hibernation during winter.  They are in a waiting pattern; resting and replenishing.  We need to learn from their example.  Taking time to study, learn and reflect is a good way to spend the time.   

God’s word tells us in Psalm 46:10(NKJV) to:

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Each season has a purpose for us.  A cold winter day, with freshly falling snow, has a peaceful, serenity to it.  The photo of the frozen river on a freezing, yet sunny day, illustrates this well.   Take a time out. Be Still and get to know God!

God’s Harvest

The Grain Of Wheat Dies And Produces Much Grain

I live in a small rural “city” in Northern New York.  I quote “city” not to diminish it, but growing up on Long Island, about 45 miles away from New York City; I view a city very different!   Just a few minutes out of town, there is rural farmland.  We also enjoy having a large Amish Community among us.

While traveling across the back roads one day, my husband and I came across this Amish farm of winter wheat. It was harvested and stacked in shocks.  The Amish use a machine that is called a binder to harvest the wheat. They hitch the binder up to their horses to do the job.  They do not use modern machinery. How they live is interesting, and the field of wheat sparked my curiosity.  Of course, I had to get a picture. 

Photos inspire me to think of God’s word and relate it to His creation.  Planting, harvesting and sowing are all a part of His plan.  The Bible verse I used for this photo is John 12:24.

“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.’”   John 12:24 (NKJV) 

In the verse, John 12:24, we can see, metaphorically, that Jesus is the seed that fell to the ground and died. He, even so, rose up to bring about an abundant harvest, for the glory of God.   Through His sacrificial death, eternal life was made possible. This is the way God planned to redeem a lost world, through Christ, Himself, the perfect seed dying and rising again.  We, who believe, are admonished to die to ourselves and live for Christ.  By God’s grace, we can become a fruitful branch that produces a harvest for our Lord. 

God not only shows us His spiritual provision for us, but His provision for our human needs as well.  He cares for us through the planting, growing, and harvesting of the food we need to sustain our life.  The farmer knows the cycle well.  The picture of the field of winter wheat portrays the food, we need to eat here on earth, while John 12:24 speaks to us about our spiritual needs.  Truly, this depicts God’s Harvest!