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

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

In Everything Give Thanks

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart

As we, in America, approach our Thanksgiving Day Holiday, we are reminded of all we have to be thankful for; and from whom all our blessings come. However, being thankful should not just be a one day event! Let thankfulness permeate our being. It should be an everyday and all consuming frame of mind.

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

Why?

Because God is good!

Psalm 118:29 (NKJV)“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”

On this Thanksgiving, even in the midst of all the turmoil surrounding us all, I encourage you to be thankful. We still have many things to be thankful about. God bless you all. Happy Thanksgiving!

©️Denise L. Calandra 2021

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement.

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

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

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

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The Heavenly Stairway

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

It was at Fillmore Glen State Park, in New York, our family met. The date was September 2020, during the Covid 19 Pandemic. This being an open outside area, made it a great place to gather and enjoy some time together.

There was a 350-stair hike challenge, which we all survived. The stairs were wide and smooth making it easy (well sort of) to walk on. However, over in another section of the park was a much older stairway. It was narrow; the steps had crumbling stones in them. They were very uneven and steep. All of this made it difficult to walk up, unlike the other stairway. This stairway took all your attention and focus, lest you stumble and fall. Sunlight was shining through the trees creating an alluring effect on you. Surely you wanted to climb them, as difficult as it was, all the way to the top!

When I was back down at the bottom, I looked up the stairs and took a photo. I named the photo “The Heavenly Stairway.”  We are all on our journey through life. As we travel along, we face many different trials, temptations, and difficulties. We must navigate our way extremely carefully, so we do not stumble and fall. If you are a believer, then your destination is Heaven. How are you doing along your pathway? Thankfully, we are not left on our own to make it. Let us look at some scriptures to see what God is telling us and how He is there to help us.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (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 16:9 (NKJV) “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

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

Romans 8:31 (NKJV) “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

  • First, God tells us all things are possible through Christ. He is in us and is our strength. We can rely on Him to help us. We are not alone.
  • Secondly, we need to trust the Lord, completely. Do not depend on your own thoughts, acknowledge God and His ways, so He can direct your paths.
  • You may make plans, but let God lead you in them. You cannot go wrong with God as your guide.
  • If we are looking to God for direction, He will make a way for us to get through. He rejoices as we go.
  • Even if our way gets difficult and tiresome, He will not leave us nor forsake us. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

When you see a challenge, do you run to it and give it all you have?  Perhaps, you back away from it, defeated before you even begin. This stairway in the photo can be a bit overwhelming at first.  I realize that not everyone can physically climb these steps, but that is not the point. The point is when you come across a challenge, an obstacle, or a difficulty, as you travel along your way, do not back away. Attack it, even if one step at a time, you are making progress. Eventually, you will make your desired goal. It is well worth the climb to reach the top of “The Heavenly Stairway.” Let God direct your steps in all things.

The featured picture is available to purchase @:  https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

© Copyright Denise L. Calandra 2021

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

Breathe On Me

Your Very Breath Sustains Me

One afternoon I was outside in my backyard enjoying the wildflowers that were growing. There was a refreshing summer breeze blowing. It was an invigorating moment. One of life’s gifts to help us forget, if only for that moment, the troubles around us.

As I looked down at the flowers, I watched with interest, how the breeze gently picked up the open petals and blew them to the side. Softly, the breeze came along and lifted the petals right up guiding them over. I try to see God in His creation and   look to see what He says in His word; then put it together.

So along came the breeze and gently lifted the petals on the flower. It directed them. The breeze whispered by as if to say:                                                                   

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NKJV

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

“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’.” Isaiah 30:21 NKJV

“You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11 NKJV

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 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

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7 NKJV

Learn from the flower to rest in Him. It trusted as the wind gently picked up its petals and directed them to the side. At this moment, it knew that everything would be okay. There was no struggle, it just went with the flow. If only we could truly learn to rest and trust in the Lord. We could save ourselves a lot of trouble. Lay your burdens down at His feet and believe He will uphold you through it all. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and direct you. Truly rest in Him! Invite His breath to flow on you.

© Denise L. Calandra 2020

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement.          

Destinations

Let Your Eyes Look Straight Ahead

Looking at these train tracks, watching as they fade far off into the horizon, many thoughts and memories come to mind. It brings me back to my childhood days on Long Island. Trains were and are a major part of life there. They are an alternative form of transportation into New York City, avoiding the Long Island Expressway experience. You can take the train to many other places as well. They are an important form of transportation.

When you see train tracks what do you think of? Perhaps, a journey, an enjoyable ride, traveling to a vacation area or a daily commute to get to a specific place? Trains do not hold the same role for all people. A train might stand for a pleasurable trip somewhere, instead of a daily commute. There also are freight trains, which bring supplies and food to places for us to use in our daily lives. We can see that trains are useful for transporting people or items from one place to another. They bring us to a specific destination.

As we journey through life on earth, from a Christian perspective, we have a precise destination before us.  Our purpose is to make it to this destination, our true home in Heaven!  While reaching this goal becomes our focus or concern; we do not want to neglect the experience itself along the way. 

May I ask you a few questions? How are you doing on your pilgrimage? First, do you know your destination? If so, are you staying on track? Have you been derailed along the way? It can be too easy to get distracted and get off course! We as Christians, have a destination we are reaching for.  We have a “conductor” guiding us as we travel along. He is there to help us keep on track.                                         

Most of us are familiar with the movie “Polar Express.” Let us consider this movie. It has a destination, which is The North Pole. There were passengers aboard for the ride. They were picked up along the way, especially for this train ride. They were not there by chance. Each one was going to the same place, the North Pole. However, they each had their own struggles to overcome along the way. The conductor knew each person and each situation. He was guiding them along and helping them to overcome their problems. They were each shown what they needed, from the conductor. He gave them their tickets punched with their need on it.  One was to BELIEVE. Another was to LEAD. One was to RELY ON, and another LEARN.  They each received a special message for their unique situation.

Let us now get back to us trekking along on our paths. Do you feel overwhelmed, confused, lost, unsure, unworthy, alone, tossed about, or distracted? We have a destination we want to get to. We have struggles along the way also. Sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed or alone we allow ourselves to get sidetracked. Do not be dismayed for we have THE TRUE conductor, Jesus Christ, to guide us on our way. He is our keeper and is showing us the way to overcome all obstacles. He cares for you and me. He is making sure we make it to our destination, home with Him.  He helps each of us in our own special need. He wants us to BELIEVE, LEARN, RELY ON, and LEAD. We must look to Him and His word to stay on track.  Proverbs 4:25-27 (NKJV) admonishes us to do that!

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you, Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”

© Denise L Calandra 2020

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement.