Happy New Year

May this year bring many blessings and opportunities your way.

©️ Denise L. Calandra 2022

Pictures available at:

https:denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

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Come Away and Rest Awhile

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

When I look at this setting, I am overwhelmed with peacefulness. It takes me to a quiet place, away from all the daily struggles. It was important to Jesus to get away by Himself, as well. He was also concerned for His disciples who were so busy they didn’t even take time to eat.

In the Bible verses below we read about the Apostles going to Jesus and sharing all that they had been doing. We see His response of concern for them in their weariness. Jesus admonished them to go away to a quiet place.

“Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” Mark 6: 30-32 (NKJV)

This shows us that Jesus clearly considered the condition of His apostles and insisted they go away to a deserted place to get some rest. He knew they needed to be refreshed and renewed to be able to carry on effectively.

In the scriptures we learn how Jesus, Himself, needed time to get away. He would go to be alone, with God, and pray. It was not just on one occasion this occurred, but several times. It was a consistent practice. Jesus would go and pray by Himself before and after a teaching event among the crowds who came to hear Him. See below what the Bible teaches us about this behavior.

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for You.’”
Mark.1: 35-37(NKJV)

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:”
Luke.6: 12-13(NKJV)

“However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”
Luke 5: 15-16(NKJV)

“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.”
Matthew 14:23(NKJV)

We can see a definite pattern here, nothing was done without prayer and supplication with God the Father! 1. He prayed for strength and wisdom before going out among the crowds. See Mark 1:35-37. 2. Before making any major decision Jesus went and prayed. See Luke 6:12-13. 3. In order to be filled before He went to teach, preach and heal Jesus prayed. See Luke 5:15-16. 4. After He was done with a major event He went away alone to pray for refreshment and renewal. See Matthew 14:23.

If Jesus, God’s son, our Lord and savior, had the need to humbly take time and go to His Father in Heaven in prayer, then how much more should we? You don’t have to pack up and go somewhere to do this. Go to a quiet room, go for a walk, go to a park, yes the mountains or beach, wherever you can be calm and seek the Lord. This is the most important part of our Christian life. We need His filling and strength to be effective for Him. If we neglect this we will be walking in our own strength not His. I implore you to “Come away and rest awhile with Him.”

©️ Denise L. Calandra 2022

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement!

Pictures available at:

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

Be Ye Renewed…

Backyard Sunrise

This sunrise was taken one morning in my backyard. Although I didn’t capture it rising along the horizon, it has a beauty and promise all its own. It was so bright, happily spreading its glorious sun rays through the trees and lighting up the shed. A fresh new day has arrived, with all the promises of amazing possibilities for us.

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:23-24

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

A new day is a blessing from God. It is a new beginning, a fresh start. Isn’t this the wonderful grace God gives to us as we go through our daily lives. It is a reminder of how He loves us and forgives us. He has a plan and purpose for each of us. He doesn’t want us weighed down with past baggage. If we stay in the past we can never grow into all that He has for us. Look to the “Son” who is reaching out to us. Do not miss the beautiful rays coming your way. Let it all go, be engulfed in His renewed life for you.

As the sun rises and as it goes down each and every day, keep your mind on the word of God. He tells us in Psalm 113:3 to give Him praise for all He has done, is doing and is going to do. Let Him light your way.

©️Denise L. Calandra 2022

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement!

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

Come Unto Me

Jesus says, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.” He invites us to Himself. Enter in.

I love this doorway. It is not only comforting and peaceful, but there also is an alluring quality to it. Truly, you just want to enter in.

This surely should be the same, plus even more, about Christ, Himself. He is comforting and peaceful, as well as alluring. He emanates pure love toward us. Lovingly, Jesus calls to us bidding us to come unto Him.

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

Jesus came for us. He left His Father and heavenly home to save us. Sadly, we chose to sin. Somberly, we reflect on how this caused God to sacrifice His only begotten Son for us. This was the only way to redeem us from our sinfulness and restore us into a right relationship with God the Father. Of course we are thankful and rejoice in this, however it does cause us to grieve over what He went through for us.

“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

In the season of what we call “Lent”, we reflect and focus on what the Lord has done for us. Also, we consider our own lives and behavior as we spend time in prayer and fasting to seek to be closer to God. It is a time of preparing for our Lord. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants us to seek Him, not just during Lent. As a Christian, a follower of Christ, this needs to be our daily practice. The more we seek to be closer to Him, the closer He comes to us. He is not an indifferent God. Jesus’ death on the cross is not the end of the story. Remember, He arose from the dead. We celebrate His resurrection and rejoice in the new beginning this gives to us all. Come, seek, knock, ask, search and you will find rest. He bids us to come to Him, He came for us! What a glorious resurrection day Easter is! Please enter in. There is salvation through no one else.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV

©️ Denise L. Calandra 2022

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement!

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

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!

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A Gift Beyond Measure

God sent His son to us as a little babe. A gift beyond measure,wrapped in swaddling cloths.

This is such an important Bible verse. Probably, many of you have it memorized. It tells us about our God, the creator of heaven and earth, loving us so much, He willingly sent His only Son to earth, so that we might have eternal life.

If we turn to the first verse in the Bible we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (NKJV) He made the world, then the animals, then man and woman. See in Genesis 1:31, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Yes, “God so loved the world.”

We see how much God loved the world, in which, He created. Therefore, one can only wonder why God sent His only begotten Son to earth for us? We seem to forget about the fall of man. In Genesis chapter 3, we can read the account of this tragic event and the consequences of it, for us all.

All creation had sweet fellowship with the living God before the fall of man. After this tragic event, everything changed, our sin separated us from God the Father. In ourselves there was no way back, we were now lost. However, our loving God had a plan all ready for us. He had a plan to save His creation, whom He loved greatly.

His plan began by sending His only Son to earth. He was sent as a little babe. This was the first step. If He never came it would never have worked. We see in The Apostles Creed, the plan. It is stated as follows:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; He ascended into heaven,
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Now this sums it all up for us. God sent His Son, Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirt, born of the virgin Mary, was crucified for our sins, actually died, and was buried. He descended to the dead, yet on the third day He rose from the dead. He is seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty. This is also stated in the scripture verse, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son …” He was sent, He came, He died for our sins, He rose again and is seated with God, in eternal life. It is now up to us to believe in Him and what He has done for us, so we too, can have eternal life with Him. As I said at the start of this blog, John 3:16, is a very special Bible verse.

Look closely at the photo of the sun setting. As it is going down the glow that is emanating from it is reflecting the symbol of the cross onto the river. It is reflecting the color red on the water. I think about the blood and water that came out of Jesus’ side when pierced. He shed His blood for us that we may have eternal life. Isn’t this truly the gift beyond measure? As Christmas is quickly approaching, take time to ponder the depth of this act for us. This is the reason and meaning of Christmas.

1John 5:6 (NKJV). “This is He who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.”

May God richly bless you this Christmas. Rejoice in the new born king.

©️Denise L. Calandra 2021

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement !

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

Lean-To


He is our shelter along the way

My husband, daughter and I were exploring The Remington Recreation Trail in Canton, NY, on a sunny summer day. Not taking this path before, we had no idea of what to expect. We were not sure where the path led, how long it was or where it ended. We discussed this as we continued walking along, enjoying the scenery. Around one of the turns on the walkway, we came across a shed building, known as a Lean-To. It was a picturesque setting to behold along the wooded pathway. It made me think about how it served as a place of shelter if we met up with inclement weather or needed a rest. What a surprise haven to find!     

This spurred me on to consider how much more of a treasure and refuge we have in our Lord and Savior. As we go through our life journey, overwhelming situations may come our way. It is a comfort to know that we have God to look to. He is our safe place. His word confirms this to us. Look at what these verses tell us: 

Psalm 91: 1-2 (NKJV) “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust’.” Or

Psalm 46: 1-6 (NKJV) “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.”

He assures us that He is our true Lean-To!! He is our shelter along the way.  Will you Trust Him today? There really is no other way.

© Denise L. Calandra 2021

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

Looking Up


“Unto thee, o Lord, Do I lift up my soul.”
Psalms 25:1

While standing at the front of this church building, it automatically causes me to look up. This steeple is awesome, but at the same time it makes me feel small and helpless. My thoughts turn heavenward, causing me to cry out to my Lord and God. What a comfort it is knowing He is there for us. This is just a building, however it does represent God to us. The building is built with a stone foundation and stands strong. How much more is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ our true rock and foundation? He stands even stronger!

In our daily life, with all the trials and struggles we sometimes face, isn’t it a comfort and wonder to know we have a God who is with us to help? The troubles can overwhelm us, making us feel small and helpless, as when standing by such a towering building. When we choose to look upon our true rock and foundation, God, we feel empowered and strengthened. Why? Let us read what the Bible tells us in His word about Jesus as our rock.

Psalms 18:2 (NIV)

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

While a church building may represent God to us, I am grateful to have the living God, my True Rock and Foundation to stand on. I pray you do as well, and if not, will you consider Him today?

©️copyright 2021 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.

For Unto Us A Child Is Born

What a peaceful, glorious, holy night. For unto us a child is born!

On a quiet night, a long time ago, a baby was born. He wasn’t just any baby, He was the Son of God, born for us.

Immanuel… “God With Us”

Christmas…”Christ Has Come”

This is the reason we celebrate. This is the coming of our Lord to save us all.

Merry Christmas and God Bless All!

© Denise L. Calandra