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

God’s Grace Our Hope

If along the way you encounter choppy times, stand firm, keep going, keep The Cross before you always.

Whatever you face in life, in this world, keep your eyes on The Cross. With the Cross before us, we can never lose. Because of God’s Grace, we have Hope.

Listed below are some scriptures that tell us this truth.

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Romans 5:8 (NKJV) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

1 Peter 2:24-25 (NKJV) “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. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

John 3:16 (NKJV) “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.”

Matthew 10:38 (NKJV) “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

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

Matthew 16:24 (NKJV) “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'”

Keep your eyes looking up to where your help comes from. There is hope and grace in Christ.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV) “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

© 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.

Thoughts, Resolutions, Pondering and Contemplation…As we consider a New Year Ahead.

Consider all that may be ahead. A vast amount of opportunity lies before us.

Looking out from Whiteface Mountain, we see hills, valleys, waterways; what an endless display of natural beauty. It can bring peacefulness to us, as we behold such grandeur. We clearly can see all the landscape in front of us. Thinking forward, at this point, consider that we cannot see into our future and know all that will befall us; as we travel on our life journey.  However, we can carefully consider and contemplate the paths and choices that are ahead.  Thoughtfully pondering the situations before us, can help us to choose wisely our direction.

Yes, a “New Year” is once again upon us; actually, it is in full swing. Sometimes we think about it as a time for a new beginning, a fresh start, or a change of some kind. We might reflect on the past and ponder as we consider our future. Thoughts about what was helpful in the last year may go through our minds. We also, might question ourselves about what wasn’t so useful. We can contemplate about both aspects; learn from them and make any changes that can be a benefit to us. We may even make a “New Year Resolution,” that many times we do not keep. Maybe, it has already been broken! 

There are many paths, roads, situations, challenges and choices that lie ahead for us this year. Let’s look at what some of these paths might be like.  Use these photos, below, to visualize some situations we may encounter. 

Some paths are leisurely and pleasant.

 Some paths or circumstances are challenging.

Other paths may be choppy or unsure.

There are ups and downs, highs and lows, along with twists and turns.

Some paths are clearly marked, others are not. Some are long, some lonely and dark. Other ways are busy and crowded and some definitely connect one place to another.

Paths have a destination, some lead us to safety, others don’t. Some are lighted along the way, others are not. There can be hope at the end of certain roads, if we choose wisely the road to take.

As we can see many things await us each year. Some will be very welcome; others may not. There will be countless choices and decisions for us to consider. It can be difficult or complicated as we navigate our way through the trials of life. We all will need great wisdom to help and guide us along. I go to God’s word, The Bible, and see what the scriptures say. There is a verse for every situation. My thoughts and reasons for this blog is to help us to thoughtfully consider and ponder what lies ahead and prayerfully contemplate wise choices. May God Bless you all this year ahead. Have a wonderful journey.

Below are a few verses to help. Go search for yourself, there is an endless supply of wisdom available to you. Seek the words of the Lord. Happy travels.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills-From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1 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

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

“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.” James 1:5 NKJV

“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.” Proverbs 4:26-27 NKJV

© Denise L. Calandra

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

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.