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!

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/

Are you watching?

Out in the wilderness, along a hiking trail, stands the watchtower in the photo above. What is the significance of a watchtower anyway? A watchtower is built with an elevated observation platform. The purpose is to provide a high safe place from which a person, such as a guard, can observe the surrounding area. Primarily, they have been used by the military, where a person is appointed to keep watch over the area for any signs of danger.

The tower, along the trail, stood alone and was empty. Only when we climbed it did it become full. Then we were able to stand and look around or “watch.” In this case, if my husband and I never chose to climb up and look around, we never would have seen the lake. We would have missed it, because it could only be seen by looking over the top of the trees!

God wants us to watch in our daily lives. He admonishes us in His word to watch and pray. What do we miss when we do not listen to His Word? Let us read some Bible verses about doing just that!

Luke 21:34-36 (NKJV) “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Matthew 24:42-44 (NKJV) “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Matthew 25:1-13 (NKJV) “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But He answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

Matthew 26:40-41 (NKJV) “Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ He asked Peter. Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

From reading these scriptures, we can see, God is telling us about the importance of practicing this discipline in our daily lives. He tells us to watch and pray in several verses. Because God is ever concerned about us and how we are doing; He warns of danger that can come upon us if we are not careful. As believers we need to obey a loving God who saved us from our sin. We want to do His will for us. He knows that our flesh is weak, and we can fall into various temptations in the world. We must always be learning and growing in our relationship with Him. Watching and praying keeps us close to God. If we are not diligent and wise, we may miss what God has for us. Always be prepared and ready for we do not know when He is going to come or need us to fulfill a specific purpose. Are your lamps trimmed? Are You ready? Do not miss out and have the door shut on you. Desire to be your best for God. Be ever diligent so you do not miss Him. Do not be caught off guard as in the parable of the ten virgins!

Are You Watching?

 ©Denise L. Calandra 2021

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement!

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

He Will Make A Way

Isaiah 43:15-19 (NKJV)

“I am the Lord, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King.”16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse,
The army and the power
(They shall lie down together, they shall not rise;
They are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick):
18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.”

When we read these scriptures from Isaiah, we see how God makes a way for us. Imagine how the Israelites might have felt. Finally, they were set free! They were on their way to a better life.  As the Israelites, were on their journey, they came before this body of water right in front of them. There they were, with all their belongings, children and all. Now what could they do? How were they going to be able to cross over? Could they make it if they swam across? Moreover, let us not forget who was right behind, chasing them, not wanting to let them go. Pharoah and company changed their mind about setting the Israelites free.

Can you see our predicament in all of this? We too, once coming to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, are set free. Slowly, we begin to move ahead in our new life. Yet, who or what wants to tag along? Our old self does not want to let go either.

Do we get to a certain point, then become blocked as well? What is your Red Sea? What is your roadblock or stumbling point? Is it fear, doubt, finances, health, addiction, pain, or perhaps old sinful ways? It may not be the actual Red Sea, but it is a real block for us. Are you at your Red Sea?

Although the way can be long, do not lose heart. God is our true help and hope, in all things. Take another look at the verses in Isaiah. Verses 15-17, show us:

-We are set free.

-God parts the Red Sea, making a way.

-He brings down the pursuers.

In verses 18-19, we see:

-God admonishes us to forget the former things.

-He gives us hope that He is doing a new thing for us.

-He wants us to know it and walk in it.

Do not let discouragement bring you to a halt. Do not miss what He is doing for you. Just like the picture in the woods, there is a way to cross over the gully. It might not be the way you think it should be, but the way is there. God will and does make a way for us in our walk with Him. Get through that roadblock to the new thing He has for you. Remember, God will make a way where there is no way. Now go forth and receive it!

©Copyright: Denise L. Calandra 2021

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

Entangled

These two trees are entangled together.

If you look closely at this picture, you will see two different trees. This is not necessarily unusual; however, these two trees have become entangled together. Somehow, they were in each other’s space causing this to occur. Nevertheless, they both managed to grow. However, this situation allowed only one to grow strong, to its full potential. The other was hindered by the entanglement. One was a lilac tree. I do not know the type of the other tree. The lilac tree was stronger; it grew tall, and overtook the other tree not allowing it to fully develop. 

As I studied these trees, it made me think about how we need to be watchful in our own life. We need to be careful who and what we get involved with as we go along. Do not get entangled in wrong things. God warns us in His word about this. Listed below are just a few of many scriptures making this point:

  • Psalm1:1-2 (NKJV) “Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.”
  • 1Corinthians 15:33 (NKJV) “Do not be deceived; Evil company corrupts good habits.”
  • 2Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV) “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
  • Proverbs 13:20 (NJKV) “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.”
  • Proverbs 22:24-25 (NKJV) “Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go, Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul.”
  • 2Timothy 3:13 (NKJV) “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

These scriptures are clear about the way we are to live. Heed the warning to walk right and grow to your full potential in Christ. Do not be hindered, follow the way of our Lord! We can end up victorious and stronger, or we can become weaker. Do not get entwined in anything that will bring you down the wrong path and stop you from growing. Stay with God.

©Denise L. Calandra 2021

Photographs available for purchase at the following website:

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

Renewal Bursts Through

Break through with newness of life !

Spring has finally arrived, and we embrace the miracle of new life appearing again. Gently, yet determined to push through, the lilac appears, birthing a new flower. New life has come!  We see the flower peeking out and get to enjoy the beauty it brings.  Yes, the lilac is lovely to look at, but another benefit is the pleasant fragrance it offers. This rebirthing brings us a sense of hope.  It tells us the lilac plant endured through another winter.  If we persevere through hardships; we also can experience renewal in our life.  

The lilac tree persevered through the cold, snowy and icy weather. Patiently, it waited to bloom, to become all God wanted it to be. It forbearingly endured through the difficult winter. This is not always easy. Ladies think of giving birth. Patiently you wait for the baby to form and be ready. Then the time comes to push out this new life; so, it can grow into all God has designed for it.

Now we can apply this to our daily struggles; in which we all find ourselves.  Life has a way of bringing us many trials and tribulations. These difficult times can help us to grow stronger if we persevere.  They can bring about refreshment and renewal on the other side.  God tells us this in Romans 5:3 (NKJV):

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.”   

Of course, none of us like going through trials or tribulations; however, we must keep our mind on the result.  Be strong and persevere, do not grow weary my friends for God promised us help when we fall into various trials.  The Bible tells us in James 1:2-8(NKJV) to count it all joy, looking to the end of the trial.

“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.  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. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

We are all in a tribulation of great multitude at this point with Covid 19 spreading wildly.  It has affected the entire world and each of us personally, in many ways.   Look to God to help us through this.  Let us pray the end of this matter will help us all to see things a little differently.  Not that all this horror is good, but during this pause, take time to reflect and find what really matters. Become all God wants you to be. Let Him work in and through you.  Bloom fully!  Be well, stay safe and God Bless.

© Denise L. Calandra

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement!

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.