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

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

The Fruit Of The Spirit Is…

Let The Love Of God Enfold You

Let this scripture and thought be a guide and encouragement to us this day. We especially need to consider where our help comes from in these times of turmoil. God Bless you all. Stay safe and well.

Copyright: Denise L Calandra 2020

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement.

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

Your Faith, Being Much More Precious Than Gold- Photograph of A Sunny Snowy Day

A Sunny Snowy Day

It was a pleasure to experience this awe-inspiring scene one chilly winter day.  Despite the cold, barren setting, the brightly shining sun, gave out such a sense of warmth.  Even though it was a snowy wintry day, the sun illuminated the entire area, covering it with a blazing glow. It appeared to be setting the trees on fire.  It was an extraordinary sight to behold!  I call it, “A Sunny Snowy Day.” The scripture in 1 Peter 1:7 (NKJV) tells us:

“That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 

How is your faith?  Are you in a struggle?  Are you fighting through various trials and temptations?  Does the light seem to be going out or flickering?  In James 1:2-4 (NKJV) we get inspiration to carry on.

“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.”   

Do we count it all JOY?  Are we pressing on to the prize?  We do not always see the working of God in us to grow our faith.  He may use our situations, in life, to help us realize what really matters.  Your FAITH is more precious than GOLD! Keep your faith, let it shine forth in all things, not just the good times. Your surroundings and situations should not matter. 

Look unto Him, the “SON”.  The “SON” is always there, no matter what season or place we are, in our life.  As a child of God, we need to let Him be our refiner, purifier, and polisher. Let God’s perfect design for you shine forth. Let your FAITH in the SON glow.  May God set us on fire, as He completes His work in each of us!

©Denise L. Calandra   

God’s Colorful Promise

I set My rainbow in the cloud.

People tend to get excited when they see a rainbow. “Hey, look there is a rainbow!” “Wow, I just saw a rainbow!” “That rainbow was so awesome!”  These might be some thoughts exclaimed upon seeing a rainbow.  Have you ever wondered why it brings this reaction?  Yes, it is a beautiful, colorful and wonderful sight to envision.   However, maybe the reason we get such delight goes much deeper than this. Perhaps, deep inside we know it is a reminder of God’s love and promise to us.

“I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”  Genesis 9:13 (NKJV)

Let us remember God created us in the beginning, in His image.  Sadly, it didn’t take long for mankind to sin and fall from God’s grace.  God was repentant, sorry, that He had created us.

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah.  Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:5-9 (NKJV)

God decided to destroy all, through a flood covering the whole earth. Thankfully, Noah found grace in His sight. God allowed Noah and his family to be saved, by entering the ark. This became their home and provision for safety throughout the flood. When the waters receded and land was visible, Noah and his family got off the ark. God made a beautiful rainbow in the sky. He said this was a sign of His promise to mankind, which is not to destroy the earth by a flood again. 

 “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.  It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud.” Genesis 9: 11-14 (NKJV)

Upon seeing a rainbow, we are mindful of God’s love and grace. We also are reminded of God’s promise to mankind. Let us realize the rainbow goes all the way back to the flood with Noah. The fact that the rainbow is still in existence today shows us that God and His word are real! God keeps His word and can be trusted. This truly is a joy and comfort. What a colorful promise indeed! So, the next time you are enjoying the sight of a rainbow, never forget God’s promise and love for us. Honestly, this is the pot of gold. It is greater than anything the gold could ever buy. Rejoice and be glad. Enjoy!