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

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

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

Sugar Snow

Rose Bush
Leaf Budding

Sugar Snow

It came, a late winter snow,

Not wanting its grip to let go.

But spring had begun,

Wanting its turn to run.

Buds are appearing,

As the snow is nearing.

Gently it falls, spreading white flakes,

A little is all it takes.

Saying I will help you grow,

One last time, before I must go.

Each season has a time,

I pass over to you, now take your turn to shine.

Sugar Snow by Denise L. Calandra

This photo was taken in April. The buds were just blooming. Along came some snow, softly covering the new flowers. It took a very pretty picture. It reminded me of a Bible verse talking about the seasons. Of course, that verse is Ecclesiastes 3:1:

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” NKJV

Even if seasons overlap a little, they do each have their own time and purpose. It is nice we get to enjoy them.

© Denise L. Calandra 2021

Photographs available for purchase at my store:

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

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.