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