Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jewel # 52 (Dec 22, 2009)

To my dear Grandchildren,

Alone?

The story is told of some Native American Indian tribes and the 'rite of passage' to manhood each boy in those tribes went through when turning age 12.

When the day came that a boy was to go through this 'rite of passage', late in the afternoon his father led him alone deep into the forest.  The boy likely would never before have been so far away from his village, and so deep in the thick, dense forest through which his father was leading him.

After a long trek through the almost impenetrable, dark forest the boy's father stopped in a small clearing.  Indicating to his son that they were at their destination he told his son to sit down on a huge fallen log.  As the boy sat down, his father carefully, but securely, blindfolded him.  While he was doing that he explained to his son that he must sit there for the whole night.  Only when the sun was rising and its rays of light began to seep into the dark forest was the boy to remove his blindfold.

His father continued the instructions - if he heard the unmistakable sounds of wolves, mountain lions, or even bear nearby, still he must not cry out for help.  He was to sit, unmoving, without whimpering, groaning, sighing or speaking.  His Father told him "once you survive this night, you will be a man."  Reminding the boy that he could not tell the other boys in the village of his experience, his father was silent.

The boy sensed that he was now alone.

During the long night, he heard may noises which he was sure were wild animals prowling nearby.  He thought other noises he heard were humans that were stealthily coming to harm him.  The eerie sound the wind made as it blew through the trees was particularly unsettling to the boy.  Yet he knew that to become a man he must stoically sit on the log and never give expression to the fear he felt inside.

Though the night with its unseen terrors seemed to the frightened, lonely young lad as though it would never end, the morning with its light and gentle breezes, finally came.  The boy who had bravely endured that night, eagerly removed his blindfold.

The first thing he saw, sitting on the ground in front of him, was his father who had spent the night silently watching and guarding his boy from danger.

". . . He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Jewel # 51 (Dec 9, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

The Broken Eggs

Chris hadn't quite learned to walk yet when we went to visit our friends on the farm.  It was an interesting place.  They had a yard full of clucking chickens, hungry cows and curious turkeys, all trying unsuccessfully to get fat on desert grass.

The turkeys were funny.  They seemed interested in everything around them and came over as a flock to look us over as we got out of the car.  They were probably hungry and thought we might have something for them to eat.

Arnold, the farmer, brought the eggs he had gathered into the house and set them on the kitchen table.  We were all talking and laughing about the curious turkeys when we heard a CRASH!  Chris had crawled over to the table and pulled himself up onto his feet by grabbing the tablecloth.  Of course, the cloth slid off the table and with it all the eggs.  Now they were all a gooey yellow-and-white mess on the floor.

Our laughter stopped in a hurry.  It wasn't just a big mess on the floor to clean up; it meant our farming friends had no eggs to sell.  It was a sad situation.  We didn't have enough money with us to pay for the eggs, so all we could do was help clean up the mess.

We've all made a sinful mess of our lives.  And in God's sight we are not just poor; we have no money at all and are in debt.  There's not one thing we can do and no way to pay for our sins.  That's why we I am so glad to tell you that the Lord Jesus Christ saw our sad, sinful lives and took pity on us.  He left the glory of heaven to come live in this world full of sin.  He was born a tiny baby just as you and I were, but He never sinned.  The Bible tells us in Luke 2:51-52 that He grew to be a fine young boy, obeyed His parents, and "increased in wisdom . . . and in favour with God and man."

But the Lord Jesus was also the Son of God.  First John 3:8 tells us, "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested [came], that He might destroy the works of the devil."  He came to pay for our sins.

Later we were able to pay our friends for the broken eggs, but we'll never be able to pay the Lord Jesus for what He's done for us.  All we can do is receive Him as our very own Saviour and thank Him from the bottom of our hearts. "Our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity [sins]"  (Titus 2:13-14).    

Have you accepted His work on the cross for your sins?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jewel # 50 (Nov 28, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

The Chimney Blackbird

When the weather begins to turn colder, have you ever noticed that blackbirds and starlings collect around the tops of warm chimneys?  If it gets crowded up there, sometimes there is pushing and shoving and squawking among the birds to find a warm spot.

One September afternoon, a blackbird had somehow gotten inside the oil furnace chimney above the roof of our house.  Even though the furnace was off, there was warmth from the morning use of the furnace, and the bird either fluttered or fell to the bottom of the chimney.  But soon it wanted to be out of there!

We could hear the bird fluttering and scratching, but it could not fly back up to the top opening.  It was hopelessly trapped, and we felt sorry for it, as it struggled inside the chimney to get out.

The only way for that blackbird to have its freedom was for us to take apart the top of the furnace so we could reach the bird and take it outside to set it free.   After considerable effort, we finally were able to capture the bird inside the  chimney.

The blackbird was black to start with, but now it was blacker with the soot and filth of the chimney.  We carried it outside to the garden hose.  But even after most of the soot was washed off, that blackbird still remained black - because it was born a blackbird.

You and I each have a sinful nature that we were born with, and we can't change it.  But we can have the soot and filth of our sins washed away.  However, water won't do it, nor will trying to lead a good, clean life help.  Being helpful to our friends and neighbours won't remove a single sin either.  God's Word says, "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses [good deeds] are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).  That makes us just as helpless to remove our sins as that blackbird was to get rid of the chimney soot.  But the garden hose was the remedy for the blackbird.  The bird was washed clean and set free.

God and His Son Jesus are offering you and me the remedy to remove our sins forever.  The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ shed on the cross has the power to wash us clean from every sin and to set us free.  "The blood of Jesus Christ [God's] Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).  "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

The blackbird was released - clean and free again.  But have you been released - clean and free?
 Have you been to Jesus to have your sins washed away? 

What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
So that not one spot remains?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Nothing can for sins atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Nothing good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jewel # 48 (Nov 22, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up My Jewels."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

The Cuckoo Bird

The European cuckoo bird has a strange habit.  When the mother bird is ready to lay her eggs, she doesn't build a nest for them.  Instead, she flies to the nest of another bird who is off hunting for food and lays one egg in that nest.  Then she finds another nest where the mother bird is gone for a few moments and lays another egg in that nest.  She does this until her whole clutch of cuckoo eggs has been laid so each one is in a different nest.

When the other mother birds return to their nests, they don't seem to notice that they have a strange egg in their nests.  They treat it just like one of their own, keeping it warm and protecting it.  But when the eggs all finally hatch, the baby cuckoo bird is larger that the other baby birds in the nest.  And this cuckoo baby gobbles up far more than its share of the bugs and worms that the mother bird brings to her nest for the babies.  The baby cuckoo bird grows big and strong, while the other baby birds in the nest become weak and sickly and many times even die.

Now I'm wondering if those of us who are Christians might have a "baby cuckoo bird in our nests'?  Are we allowing anything in our lives to gobble up the time and energy we should be using to read God's Word, the Bible, and spend time in prayer?  If so, we won't grow strong and healthy in ways that the Lord Jesus wants for us.

This is a good verse to remember to help us get rid of the "baby cuckoo birds" in our lives.

"Order my steps in Thy Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion [power] over me."  (Psalm 119:133).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jewel # 47 (Nov 14, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up My Jewels"
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

Defeated Yet Still Dangerous

When Danny Anderson was a young boy, he loved to go hunting for rattlesnakes with his dad.  He gave Danny some good advice: "Never touch a rattlesnake!"  That's very good advice, since rattlers will often strike at moving objects in front of them, and their bite delivers deadly poison from their fangs.  The kind of rattlesnakes where Danny now lives inject a poison that kills living tissue, stops blood from clotting, and can shut down vital body organs.  If the bite isn't treated right away, it can cause death and almost always leaves some kind of scar.  That's why I'm sure Danny wishes he had listened to the advice he got from his dad when was just a boy.

Danny, now fifty three years old, has often seen bull snakes around his property.  They aren't poisonous and are actually helpful to farmers by eating rats and mice.  Danny had never once seen a rattlesnake in the five years he'd owned this property, but they can be found not far away.

One Monday night, he was feeding his horses when a five foot rattler slithered up where Danny and his son were working.  Acting quickly, one of them grabbed an irrigation pipe and pinned the snake to the ground.  While it struggled, the other one grabbed a shovel and cut off the head, hitting it a few times for good measure.  That's when Danny made his big mistake.  He thought, wouldn't a rattle snake head make a nice souvenir?

This rattlesnake reminds me of another deadly enemy of man-kind - Satan.  He was conquered, defeated and crushed by Christ at the cross.  Even Satan's best weapon, death, was taken away from him when Christ was raised from the dead - "Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54).  But that doesn't mean we should challenge Satan or ignore his power.  He is a very clever and sneaky enemy!  He acts  like a roaring lion as he attempts to scare Christians away from faithfulness to Christ and obedience to their Lord.  We should remember the warning of Satan's poison and use the Word of God to resist his efforts.  "Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

But Danny didn't remember his dad's warning.  He said, "When I reached to pick up the rattlesnake's head, it raised up and almost did a back flip and bit my finger!  I had to shake my hand real hard to get it to let loose."  Experts say that the rattlesnake's heat-seeking sensors and touch sensors can both function for a while after death and cause the snake's muscles to react without the brain telling them what to do.  Scary!

Danny would have ignored the little bite, but his wife insisted they head for the hospital.  Ten minutes later, with his tongue already swelling and the snake poison spreading, they reached the nearest hospital.  In minutes he was in an ambulance, heading for a larger hospital where he could get a full, six-shot antivenin treatment.  Two days later he came home from the hospital.

Danny thought it would be fun and quite safe to pick up a rattlesnake head.  Careless people think it would be fun and harmless to go places and do things where Satan still has his power.  He hides his deadly poison in things that look inviting.          

Have you read books or magazines, played games and enjoyed entertainment that has the poison of sin mixed with it?  Danny's wife had the best advice: "Get out of there and head for the hospital right away!"  And it's a good thing Danny listened.  The Lord Jesus gave us the perfect example for resisting Satan, by using His Word to defend against the devil.  You can read about it in Luke 4:1-13.  Notice how many times Jesus says, "It is written," and then quotes the Word of God.

Danny says the next time he sees a rattlesnake he'll kill it, but then he'll grab a shovel and bury it right there!  And you and I should follow God's instruction in Proverbs 4:14-15 when we meet up with sin: 

"Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.  Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jewel # 46 (Oct 30, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up My Jewels."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

Buried in an Avalanche

Jason Kostner is a young man who enjoys skiing on Mt. Shasta in California.  He is somewhat unusual in that he often takes his dog along.  His dog is an Australian Shepherd named PJ who loves to run.  PJ sometimes even rides the chairlift with Jason up to the top of the mountain.

One day in April when there was still plenty of snow on the mountain, Jason started skiing down the part of the mountain called the "Powder Bowl" with PJ running along behind him.  The Powder Bowl is just south of what is called "Avalanche Gully."

While he was skiing down the slopes, he suddenly felt the snow shifting under his skis.  He looked around and saw that the entire snow-covered mountainside was sliding down in an avalanche!  Just for a moment he was able to see PJ, and the avalanche of snow was curling over the dog . . . then PJ was out of sight.

The next thing Jason knew was that the bank of snow racing down the slope hit him and sent him flying through the air in a cartwheel.  He was able to land in a kneeling position on his skies.  He quickly raised himself and was able to ski out of the path of the avalanche, but he knew PJ was trapped somewhere in the snow.

As fast as he could, Jason made his way to the bottom of the slope where the avalanche had finally come to a halt.  He anxiously scanned the huge pile of snow, but there was no sign of the dog.  He called loudly, "PJ! . . . PJ!"  But no PJ came bounding towards him.   

Have you ever been buried in snow or somewhere else where you couldn't escape?  What a hopeless feeling that is.  The Bible tells us that we are all sinners, and we are buried in our sins:  "There is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:22-23).  The good news is that there is saving help for sinners: "The Son of Man (Jesus) is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).  And He is searching for sinners buried in their sins right now.  He is the help and hope for sinners.

But how could Jason help PJ?  He knew that if PJ was buried in the avalanche, there was only a slim chance of finding him alive. Avalanche victims have only a fifty percent chance of surviving if they are found within twenty minutes after they are buried in the snow.  But Jason was not willing to give up hope.  He called for help on his cell phone.

An Avalanche Search and Rescue team made up of a golden retriever dog named Cider and his trainer happened to be nearby.  They raced to the avalanche area, knowing that minutes might make the difference between life and death for PJ.  Cider was a little older than a puppy and had been trained in search and rescue procedures.  The dog searched for an hour without picking up any scent.

Then another trainer and his dog arrived.  Kenai was also a golden retriever and had more experience than Cider.  The trainer widened the search area and led the dogs in a crisscross pattern over the snow.

Jason really loved his dog and did everything he could to find him.  He didn't give up hope even when finding the dog alive seemed impossible.  And do you know that God really loves you and is searching for you, and He has not given up hope.  In order to find you, he sent His very own Son Christ Jesus from heaven to this world of sin where, on Calvary's cross, He paid the penalty for sins of every person who would believe on Him as his or her Saviour.

Suddenly Cider picked up a scent and started digging just the way he was trained to do.  Soon the men were helping him dig.  Four feet down into the snow they found the body of PJ.  Carefully they lifted him out of the hole.  His body was limp, and there didn't seem to be any body heat as they laid him on top of the snow.  Then to their astonishment, PJ opened his eyes and looked at them!  He was still alive!

A sense of relief washed over Jason.  They wrapped the dog in blankets and rushed him to a veterinarian who assured Jason that with rest PJ would recover.

You don't have to remain buried in your sins.  If you will truly admit to God from your heart that you are a sinner who needs to be saved and accept Christ Jesus as your Saviour, He will forgive every one of your sins, removing them forever!  Will you let Him save you from your sins?  He is your only hope.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jewel # 45 (Oct 23, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up My JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear Grandchildren,

Max Finds a New Friend

The big polar bear just sat and looked at his food and wouldn't eat.  He was so lonely.  You see, Max the polar bear had traveled for many years with a circus, and now they had moved him to the Bronx Zoo.  The zookeepers gave him a nice, new home with a pool in the center where he could swim - everything a bear could wish for - but he was a very lonely bear.  He was used to having other animals and circus people around, but in his new cage he was all alone and sad.  After exploring his new home, he just howled.  Max needed a friend.
Have you ever been lonely?  Even when there are people around, sometimes we feel lonely, because not one of those people is a friend.  But I have a friend who is always with me.  His name is Jesus, and He never leaves me alone, no matter where I go.  He has promised me, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).  Is He your friend too?
Even though there were grizzly bears and brown bears in cages nearby, their noises only seemed to frighten Max.  And there was the other problem too - because he was so lonely, the big polar bear hadn't eaten since he had moved into the zoo.  The zookeepers were worried and didn't know what to do.

Early one morning before the zoo visitors began to arrive, a zookeeper had tried to tempt the bear to eat by giving him fresh meat for breakfast.  But Max would have none of it.  He sat with his snout held straight up in the air and just moaned.  The keeper felt sorry for him and said to him, "Too bad they took you away from the circus, old fellow."

Just then the keeper heard a scraping sound on the walkway behind him.  When he turned, he saw a small, half-starved dog trying to get into the cage.  The keeper clapped his hands and yelled to scare the dog, but it didn't run away.  The dog had smelled the meat the keeper had placed in the bear cage, and he wanted it.

Suddenly the dog sprang forward and squeezed between the bars and was inside the cage.  The big polar bear had been watching them after hearing the keeper talk to the dog.  The keeper expected to see the bear quickly crush the life out of the dog.  Max walked over to where the dog was sitting and chewing on the meat.  The dog was watching the bear out of the corners of his eyes, but he didn't run away.  He either wasn't afraid or he was too hungry.  Max looked down at the dog, and then he lifted one paw and gently put it on the dog's back.  Then he began to lick the dog's head.  The dog kept right on eating.  Then Max lay down and began to play with the dog, and his play was very gentle.  The polar bear's sharp claws never showed as he gently played with the dog.

Once the dog had eaten his fill, he scrambled to his feet and looked around.  The keeper, who had been watching through the bars, thought the dog would run off, but instead, the dog began to play with the bear as though he had known him all his life.  Soon the two animals were romping around the cage, and the dog was yelping with happiness and excitement.  He not only had eaten a good meal for the first time in a long time, but now he had found a play fellow that did not snarl and bite him. This great big polar bear was now his friend, and the dog was now Max's friend!

Jesus would like to be your friend, and He wants you to be His friend.  He says, "Come unto Me" (Matthew 11:28), and He also says, "Suffer [let] the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14).  But most of all He would like to be your Saviour, because He loves you and died for you on the cross.  He wants to wash away all your sins so that you can live with Him in His happy home in heaven someday.  There won't be any loneliness or unhappiness in His wonderful home that He has all ready for those who love Him and are washed clean from their sins.  Have you let Him wash your sins away?  "The blood of Jesus Christ [God's] Son cleans us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

After a while the dog was tired of playing and sat down by the pool.  Max was tired too, and the two very different animals lay down together.  The keeper  left them there to go find another breakfast for the polar bear.  When he came back the dog was still there.  The keeper tossed the meat inside the cage, and for the first time since his arrival, Max began to eat and ate every scrap of food, while the dog sat and watched.  Then the two animal friends curled up and went to sleep, side by side.

Later in the day when the zoo visitors began to arrive, the dog woke up and left the cage.  But he stayed around all day, going into Max's cage every now then to play with him.  The keeper called the dog over to him and made friends with him.  He plans to adopt the dog so Max will have a friend to play with and won't be lonely anymore.

"There is a friend that [sticks] closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).  Do you know who that friend is?  It is Jesus, and He loves you.  Will you let Him be your friend and Saviour?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jewel # 44 (Oct 12, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My Jewels."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear Grandchildren,

Beautiful Autumn Leaves

"Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord."
(1 Chronicles 16:33)

King David spoke these words as he encouraged God's people to praise the Lord for all His wonderful works.  Trees are a good example for they are an important part of God's creation, and in their autumn beauty, they seem to "sing out" to their Creator.

Although many trees keep their leaves or needles year-round, many species drop their leaves in autumn.  But before they fall, there is usually a brilliant and varied display of colour in these leaves.  Red maples and sugar maples, along with oaks, blaze with fiery red, orange and gold; dogwoods turn a shade of purple; sassafras take on scarlet and orange; poplars and aspens become golden yellow.  Other species add their various beautiful colours and make the forest almost appear to be on fire.

Leaves are to a tree what lungs are to humans, controlling the passage of air and moisture to and from the tree.  Chlorophyll in the leaves is like blood to humans, converting the water and air into living tissue.  Sunlight provides the energy for this process.

Under the guidance of the Creator, every leaf is a miniature chemical factory, performing simply and efficiently in supplying sugar as part of the tree's food.  (The remainder comes from the roots.)  Leaves continually give off moisture, which, along with their shade, provide coolness on a hot day.  The leaf's chemical activity absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and in exchange gives off oxygen, so vital to air-breathing man, animals, birds and insects.  Without the forests and other plants of the world, there would not be sufficient oxygen to sustain all this life.

As fall approaches, a small ring of tissue begins to dry where the leaf stem is attached to the tree.  It is at this point, called the abscission layer, that the leaf will separate from the tree.  little by little this layer interferes with the leaf's processes, and soon the green colour fades away as its chlorophyll is cut off.  Then the spectacular colours appear - red, orange, purple, gold and yellow.  These colours have been in the leaf all along, but the green chlorophyll has hidden them.  Finally, the leaves are forced off by wind and rain, and a corky seal closes off where the stem was attached.

What a treat it is to be present when this wonderful colour change takes place.  The Bible tells us, "The Lord hath made all things for Himself" (Proverbs 16:4), and He surely has great pleasure in seeing this lovely display.  However, this beauty is only temporary, but we are assured that "the glory of the Lord shall endure forever" (Psalm 104:31).  All who know Him as their Saviour will be in the presence of His glory (heaven) and beauty for all eternity. 

Will you be there?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Jewel # 43 (Oct 6, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(MALACHI 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

THE TWINKLING FIREFLY

"Know unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:18)

The firefly is a beetle that is fascinating to all of us.  Seeing their little lights flashing on for a second or two on warm summer evenings is an interesting experience.  They are also sometimes called lightning bugs.  Many children who see them like to catch some in a jar so they can watch them up close as they turn their lights on and off.  In some tropical areas there are large firefly species, and people keep them in bottles to use for light.

Scientists would like to duplicate this kind of heatless light, because it is much more efficient than electricity.  They know how the light is produced, but the chemical reactions, one set to turn on the light and another to turn off the light, are so complex that man has not been able to use them.  We should not be surprised at this, because it is a very special reaction created for these insects by God their Creator.

The firefly begins life in the ground; even its eggs have a glow to them.  Before it is ready to fly, it develops into a glowworm.  You may have seen these shining as they crawl around looking for food.

There is another illuminated insect found in some caves in New Zealand.  This little fly, while still in the worm stage, gathers in groups of several thousand on the ceilings of caves and glows in the darkness.  After attaching itself to the roof of the cave, a two-foot long string drops from its mouth with small, sticky balls on it.  It waits in the darkness with its taillight glowing, until it feels a victim struggling to get loose from one of the sticky balls.  Pulling it up, it eats the victim along with the string.  Then it lets down a new string.

There are over 500,000 species of insects throughout the world, and God has made each one different.  This variety speaks of His handiwork and never-tiring care over them.  All these little creatures, as we see them today, are the same as they were the day they were created thousands of years ago.  God designed each one to reproduce after its kind.  Furthermore, they always obey His laws without question, and by doing so every need is provided for.

These lighted creatures remind us that the Lord Jesus was announced as the true light of the world.  God has given His people a special kind of light that He also wants displayed.  His Word, the Bible, says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). 

It is only when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour by faith that He brings us "out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).  Then we can please Him in our activities and shine out for Him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jewel # 42 (Sept. 23, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

The Blind Groundhog

To my dear grandchildren, 

One of the signs that winter is over and spring has come to our cold part of the country is that we begin to see groundhogs.  These animals, sometimes called woodchucks, sleep through the winter and come out of their burrows in the springtime.  Groundhogs are really pests, because they burrow large holes in lawns, gardens and farmers' fields and love to eat crops and nearly anything planted in the vegetable garden.  Normally we want to get rid of them, but a lady in our area had an unusual story.

This lady was walking along when she saw a very strange sight.  A groundhog was stumbling around with a soup can stuck tightly on its head.  The soup can was covering its eyes and ears, so that it was truly blinded and probably couldn't hear very well either.

The groundhog staggered along, heading towards the busy road ahead where it would soon have been killed.  The lady called for someone to help her catch the groundhog, but to her surprise the poor, frightened creature stopped near her feet and lay down.  It allowed her to hold him while she tried to remove the soup can.  He did not even try to get away.  When she got the soup can off his head, he looked up at her, scared, dazed and exhausted, then seemed to get his bearings and scurried off.

This little animal had his eyes blinded, but he accepted help and was set free.  The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that, "the god of this world [the devil] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not," so that they do not receive the good news that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15).  That morning the lady was not looking for an animal to save, but Jesus came on purpose "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).  That's you and me.

It would be very good for each one of us to do as that groundhog did - to fall at Jesus' feet and to put ourselves into His hands, because Jesus is able "to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him" (Hebrews 7:25).  He is able to open blind eyes and blind minds.

"Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jewel # 41 (Sept. 12, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

The Dragonfly

"All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made."  (John 1:3)

The dragonfly is a common sight near water or swampy areas in summer.  It has four strong but delicate-looking wings.  Since the day of creation, it has been able to dart through the air swifter than most birds, with its wings vibrating 1500 times per minute.  It can outperform the newest helicopters in hovering, flying forward or backward, up or down, or rapidly changing directions.  Unlike most insects, the dragonfly's large head can easily turn to help it spot insects, which it eats in flight.  Each of its large compound eyes has approximately 30,000 lenses, giving it excellent vision.  It can see ahead, behind, above and below, all at the same time!

The dragonfly begins its life as a nymph in the bottom of a stream or pond.  It creeps along the bottom and eats nearly anything that moves, including mosquito wrigglers, tiny minnows and tadpoles.  It moves very slowly, but can spurt water through its body in a jet-propulsion manner, giving it extra speed in an emergency.  Most nymphs remain underwater one or two years, but some remain up to five years.

When ready for its adult change, it creeps out of the water at the shoreline and becomes an air-breather for the first time.  Resting in the warm sun, its skin splits open and a new creature comes out - no longer an ugly nymph but a fully developed dragonfly.  Its wings soon unfold, but a few hours are necessary for then to dry and harden before it can fly.  It is defenseless during those hours and is a tempting meal for birds and small animals.

Finally it takes to the air with no lessons or trial flights.  Traveling at rapid speeds, its legs form a scoop-like net in which it catches its victims and transfers them to its strong jaws.  A dragonfly's appetite is huge, eating the equivalent of its own weight in thirty minutes when food is available.  It prefers mosquitoes and so is a beneficial insect.

From the smallest microbe to the great whales, the Creator, the Lord God of heaven and earth, is always aware of the needs of each one.  "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18).

Those who teach that life "just happened" and that it took millions of years for living things to reach their present form deny that God made everything to reproduce "after his kind."  The Bible warns, "Put not your trust in . . . man, in whom there is no help.  His breath goeth forth, he returneth to [the] earth; in that very day his thoughts perish."  Then it says, "Happy is he . . . whose hope is in the Lord his God: which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is" (Psalm 146:3-6). 

Do you know this happiness through faith in Him?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Jewel # 40 (Sept 3, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear Grandchildren,
Rescued!

It was winter and a small river running into the Chesapeake Bay was once again hosting many white swans, Canada geese and ducks.  

Infrequently snow and freezing sleet would move into the area causing the small river inlet to harden into ice overnight.

One morning, after a freezing ice storm had blanketed the area, a couple, living in a house on the shore of the river were enjoying breakfast as they viewed the pretty winter scene through ice frosted windows.
 
With a sudden exclamation of surprise, the lady snatched a pair of binoculars and peered intently at the far edge of the frozen river.  She saw a large Canada goose, sitting very still, its wings folded tight to its sides, and its feet frozen to the ice.

Just then the couple saw a line of swans flying overhead in perfect formation.  They flew across the river heading in the opposite direction of the bird frozen to the ice.  Quite unexpectedly the leader of the swans brought the string of white birds into a white circle which floated down to the river which floated down to the ice encircling the Canada goose.  

The couple were sure it would be pecked to death by the swans for they knew that Canada geese and white swans are not friendly and don't mix with each other.
Instead of pecking the trapped goose however, the swans' strong powerful bills began to peck the ice!  After a long time the goose was rimmed by just a narrow margin of thin ice.  

The swans rose into the air and hovering, circled as the goose struggled to free itself. 
Finally it broke free.  As it stood on the small island of ice no longer a prisoner, the goose tried to fly.  But the bird could not overcome the weight of the ice which had caked its body and wings.  Four swans left their flock overhead and dropped back down, landing by the goose.  Again their powerful beaks went to work slowly chipping and scrapping ice off the helpless bird's wings and body.  When the goose was finally able to stretch its wings back and forth to their fullest spread, the four swans flew back to rejoin their flock and resume their journey.

Behind them, rising with incredible speed and seemingly unbounded joy, the liberated Canada goose caught up with them.  Following at the end of the line of swans, it flew away with then in perfect formation.

"Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jewel # 39 (Aug 28, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

Cookie the Brave Cat

Cookie was just a little cat, but she was a mother and very proud of her kittens.  Certainly she was not about to let any harm come to them.

One day a friend of ours came to visit us, and by his side was his big German shepherd dog.  Immediately the dog spied the cat and took off after her.
"Wow, you'd better rescue your cat!  That dog will tear it to pieces!" our friend exclaimed.

I started to run toward the cat, but there was no need.  Cookie was standing still with her back arched, her hair bristling and her eyes flaming with anger.  In a moment the dog was in front of her, and Cookie's quick front claws were raking his nose and reaching for his eyes.  That big dog tucked his tail between his legs and streaked across the yard yowling.  Then he ran out the gate.  His owner couldn't believe what he saw.

Cookie followed the big dog a little way and then turned back to her kittens.  She took quite a few backward looks to make certain that dog hadn't changed his mind about coming back.  The kittens didn't even know they were in danger, but Cookie did, and she protected them.

If you've trusted the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, then God in heaven is your Father, the One who made the heavens and the earth.  He is greater and stronger than anyone or anything, and He promises never to leave or forsake any of His children,

"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5)

Are you wondering how you can become one of His children and be sure He will be protecting you?  You only need to pray to the Lord Jesus wherever you are.  Tell Him you are a sinner and want Him to forgive your sins and receive you into His family. 

"As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
(John 1:12-13).

He tells us to:

". . . fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine."
(Isaiah 43:1)

Are you one of His children and are you being protected by Him?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jewel # 38 (Aug 18, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

The Mischievous Raccoon

"God Himself . . . formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited."
(Isaiah 45:18)

In the fading evening light, a family of raccoons comes cautiously out of the woods.  Their masked faces make them look like little burglars, which they often are.  Tonight they head for a tree loaded with ripe plums.  The kits (baby raccoons) remain on the ground while the parents climb up and begin shaking  branches, causing a shower of plums to fall.  Then the whole family enjoys the dinner. 

This fruit dinner is a real treat.  Raccoons eat mostly frogs, crayfish, turtle eggs and clams taken out of shallow waters.  Birds' eggs are also a favorite, especially chicken eggs.  Sweet corn is another special treat.  Raccoons stripping ears from the stalks have ruined many cornfields.

Although raccoons weigh only about twenty-five pounds, dogs are often surprised at a raccoon's fighting ability.  It will not hesitate to attack a dog two or three times its own size.  When being chased by a dog, it is clever at escaping.  It will wade in water, run along fence tops, climb trees, back-track and leap down a hillside, all to break the scent trail the dog is following.  Occasionally a raccoon may let a dog chase it into a lake.  Then it will grab the dog by its neck and force its head under water until the dog drowns.

In spite of its sometimes nasty nature, a raccoon is a pretty animal.  It has a a fox-like face with a black mask around jet-black eyes, erect ears, a black, button nose with whiskers, and a bushy, ringed tail.  It is also very smart and soon discovers how to open latches on chicken coops, pry off garbage can lids, unscrew bottle caps, and even open refrigerators if given the chance.

This animal is another of the wonders of God's creation.  He has given it many life-sustaining instincts and also an intelligence that allows it to learn things necessary for its survival.  It is found both in the woods of the United States and Canada and in the deserts of Mexico and South America.  Its life reminds us of the verse in the Bible:

"The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works. . . . The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their [food]  in due season.  Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing."
(Pslam 145:9, 15-16)   

We think of these provisions of the Creator in connection with every creature, but it is also good to remember this prayer that should be in the heart of every boy and girl:

"Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. . . . O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days"
(Psalm 90:12,14)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Jewel # 37 (Aug 4, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."  (Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

"Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind . . . [every] beast of the earth after his kind."  (Genesis 1:24)

The stealthy Bobcat

Bobcats live in southern Canada, in many places in the United States, and as far south as lower Mexico.  They are just as much at home in deserts and sagebrush as they are in forests or on rocky hillsides.  Shy and stealthy, it is their sharp hearing that warns them to hide quickly from danger.  Being well camouflaged, they are difficult to spot.  Hikers have been startled to see one standing nearby, watching them, then suddenly disappearing.

The Bobcat is a pretty animal, looking much like a large domestic cat.  However, its  black, stubby tail and buff-coloured fur, patterned with black markings and a solid black streak down its back, immediately identify it.  A full-grown, thirty pound male stands about twenty inches high and is almost three feet long.  The bobcat is the most abundant wild-cat in the U.S.

The Bobcat is a wonderful hunter.  It stalks its victim by creeping a few inches at a time, with its body pressed to the ground.  It patiently waits until it is close enough to make a lightning dash and then pounces on its victim.  Rabbits are a favorite food, and farmers appreciate the bobcat's help in keeping their numbers down, as well as rats, mice and gophers.  Unwary birds are frequently caught, and even turtles and fish are scooped out of shallow water.  Although its piercing howls at night have frightened campers, the bobcat does not attack humans.

These outdoor cats are careful to keep themselves clean by licking their fur frequently.  In winter their fur is thick and heavy, but they shed this heavy coat in summer.  This reminds us of the Creator's kindness to all animals in caring for their needs in all seasons.  And this care of animals also reminds us of His sure promise to people who love Him:

"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper" (Hebrews 13:5-6).

The mother bobcat prepares for her expected kittens (three or four in a litter) by searching for a hidden den or a cave and lining the floor with soft materials.  She does all the work alone, including gathering food and training.  When the kittens are born, they are blind for nine or ten days.  At three months she teaches them to find their own food, and at nine months they leave to begin independent lives.

How interesting it is to see how the Lord God cares for all the wild creatures He has placed on the earth.  But of more importance is knowing that in His love to every man, woman, boy and girl, He not only watches over us even more carefully, but He invites us to take our cares to Him as well.

"Casting all your care upon Him: for He careth for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jewel # 36 (July 22, 2009)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

"Come to ME (Jesus) and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Jewels:
1. What are they?
2. Where are they found?
3. Why are they valuable?

Often jewels are similar in appearance to common rocks.  Dirty, valueless pieces of coal, can become priceless diamonds.  Diamond means "unconquerable."  It consists of one single element, Carbon (Graphite used in a pencil is carbon).  Diamonds are generally found deep underground.  They have endured tremendous pressure.  The heat and pressure has produced hardness and is regarded as the hardest rock known.  Some diamonds are used for drills to penetrate rock.  One of the most common uses is in the production of jewelry.

The Lord God said ". . . in that day when I make up MY JEWELS . . . I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son . . ."  Who is He referring to as His jewels?  His children!  Those who have taken the offer of Jesus to wash away their sins.

We are all sinners but out of "common rocks" God can make a jewel.  He looks on your heart.  He wants you for His jewel.  You may feel that no one is going to make you listen to Him and that you are "unconquerable."  Let Him make you His jewel.

Like a diamond hidden deep in the earth, you too may be far from God.  You may have suffered a lot of "heat" and "pressure" from your buddies.  In God's eyes you are very precious.  He went to a great cost to find you by giving His only Son, Jesus Christ so that you might be washed clean and become like a jewel . . . sparkling, enduring, valuable and wanted.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jewel # 35 (July 13, 2009)

"And They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

In this pleasure-loving age the so-called "Show Business" never seems to lack the "talent" necessary to provide hair-raising performances with which to thrill or amuse the crowds.  it was reported, that, while lying in his hospital bed, where he had spent four years recovering from a car accident, a twenty-nine year old Montreal man came up with the idea of becoming the most incredible stunt man the world has ever known.

He was to be called "The Human Fly," and attempted three spectacular feats in 1976 - 77.  First, the Bonneville sky walk in which he was strapped to the body of a Lear Jet standing upright fifteen feet from the front of the fuselage.  The major event was, however, an attempt to make a one-minute jump across the English Channel strapped to the outside of a custom designed missile.  Later he planned to use a similar missile to jump Mount Everest.  A jump off the CN tower, the world's tallest freestanding structure, into a twenty-foot pool of water was also planned.

Such a daredevil program might have passed unnoticed had it not reminded us that nearly ninety years ago another then famous performer known as the "Human Fly" astounded the world by climbing the walls of some of the tallest buildings in Canada and the United States.  It was announced that the same  Human Fly would climb up the face of one of the large department store buildings in Los Angeles.  Long before the planned event began the area was packed with thousands of spectators to watch this incredible stunt.

Slowly and confidently he began the upward climb, now grasping a window sill, then a jutting brick, then up on to a ledge, always overcoming insurmountable difficulties, till at last he reached the top.  Here he reached right and left above his head for something solid to hold him for the rest of the way.  Then looking up he seemed to spot what appeared to be a piece of weather worn brick or cement sticking out from the otherwise smooth wall.  Risking all in one last upward thrust he grasped the bulge in the wall.  It was a fatal leap!  There was nothing solid there to hold on to.  Before the horrified crowds he fell to the street to his death.

When his broken body was gathered up, his clenched hand was found to be holding a spider's web.  What he thought was firm and dependable proved to be as nothing.  It is true that only a few today imagine, much less attempt, such ridiculous stunts.  Yet how many millions there are trying to reach heaven by their own efforts.  Are you one of them?  Oh, be warned, it is to attempt the impossible.  The Lord Jesus Himself has said:

"I am the way. . . no man comes to the Father but by Me."
(John 14:6)

"That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised (Jesus) from the dead, you shall be saved."
(Romans 10:9)

"Except you repent you shall all likewise perish."
(Luke 13:3)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Jewel # 34 (June 8, 2009)

"They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

In France many years ago there was a family who loved the Bible.  However, they lived in the times when people were forbidden to read the Bible, and if anyone was found reading it, they were threatened with punishment and even death.

In spite of this persecution, however, the father of this family felt that whatever else he must do without, he must have the Bible to read for himself and for his children.  But he knew that unless he could hide it, it would soon be taken away from him.  He knew, too, that if he expected to keep it, he must hide it where enemies would not think of looking for it.  If he should put it in any of the drawers or in the cupboard or under the bed, they would be sure and look there and find it and carry it off.

So he got a wooden stool with sides around the top.  He turned it upside down and fastened the back of the precious old Book to the underside of the top of the stool.  When the stool was turned upside down, you could open the Bible and turn over the pages and read any part of it.  Then he made a sliding lid to the underpart of the stool so that the Bible might be protected from evil eyes and injury.  When that lid was pushed in, there was nothing about the stool that would lead anyone to suspect what a treasure there was inside of it.  It was just a common looking wooden stool, and anyone might sit on it as he pleased.

If someone came in and did not know what was there, they would have thought it very strange to see the father take that stool every morning and evening, and carefully turn it upside down, lay it reverently on his knee, draw out the lid, and gaze very earnestly on something.  In this way they kept their Bible for years and found salvation, comfort and happiness in reading it.

One day one of those who hated the bible came in the house looking for the precious Book, but he could not find it.  He searched till he was so weary that he came and sat down on the very stool to rest himself.  As he sat there, he wondered where the Bible could be; but he never succeeded in finding it.

Sometime after, the family heard of America and of the liberty people had there to read the Bible as they pleased and to worship God.  So they all came over to this country in a ship, and the precious Book, the Bible, came with them.  They loved it and guarded it.  It was the greatest treasure they had in their new home.  Then when the father died, he handed the Bible down to his children with a charge to keep it in remembrance of the sufferings and trials he had passed through in his native land.

That French family has long since passed away; but that old Bible which was hidden away in the stool, is still to be seen in the hands of their great grandchildren.  We are told that the family who now owns it lives in Western Pennsylvania.

Why do you suppose this family loved that Bible so?  Why, because  it told of a Saviour who loved them and died for their sins upon the cross of Calvary.  It told of the way to true happiness by trusting in this Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.  It spoke words of comfort in times of trial and guided them in the right way.  

"What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
(Mark 8:36)

"The world passes away . . . but he who does the will of God abides forever."
(1 John 2:17)

"If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved."
(Romans 10:9)
 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jewel # 33 (May 26, 2009)

"They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

Caspar was a great Saint Bernard dog who lived far up on the Alps mountains.  He was a king of the snow - every inch of him.  Though not a very old dog, he had already saved two lives.

One day early in the morning it began to snow up on the mountains.  Upon the mountain sides lay vast masses of snow and ice that grew heavier as the snow fell.  Sometimes just a loud word spoken would jar the air or the snow and send an avalanche crashing into the valley.  In spite of the bad weather, four men and 14-year old Paolo came trudging up the mountain road.  Palolo's father had advised the men not to attempt to cross the mountain that day, but they insisted on going on.  Paolo had slipped unseen out of the house and joined them, for he had lost one of his goats several days before and had hopes of finding it.

Suddenly one of those terrible whirlwinds which often occur in the Alps swept around a corner and moments later Paolo found himself buried beneath an immense heap of snow.

He could breath but that was all.  How many feet of snow were above him he did not know.  He found himself sinking deeper and deeper in the soft snow.  At last his feet touched the ground.  He struggled and kicked and rolled and scrambled his way along for several yards.  Suddenly he stumbled out into the open air and went plunging down a precipice only to fall into a another bed of snow.  He found himself on a ledge some 20 feet below the road, but there he was unable to go further.

Paolo thought about his parents and what a wretch he was for leaving them as he had done.  He could not shout for the cold, and he could not see far.  He knew if he went to sleep, he would never wake up again.  In all the world there was no one who could save him.  But Paolo was not counting on Caspar.  Then he dozed off.

In the meantime the four men had gone on and reached the inn.  They told how Paolo had disappeared in the avalanche of snow.

At once two men started our with Caspar.  Right through the snow storm came the great dog!  Running over the frozen crust, plunging through the deep places, bounding, leaping, caring not for the drifts or storm, like a snow king, as he was, came Caspar.

He made a dash at Paolo and rolled him over in the snow.  Then he barked at him in his deep gruff voice as if to say, "Wake up, foolish boy!  Don't you know I am here?  It is all right now."  He pushed Paolo first on one side and then the other until finally the boy opened his eyes.

Again the great Caspar barked.  His loud commanding voice seemed to announce: "I've found him!  Here he is!"  The two men arrived, and taking Paolo by the arms, they lifted him up.  They started home with Paolo between them and Caspar leading the way.

Caspar cared not for drift or storm until he found the boy.  Conquerer of the snows, triumphant over the storm, he was a true snow king.

And the Lord Jesus has conquered death and the grave to save His lost and perishing sheep.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
(Isaiah 53:6)

Would you like to be saved?  Simply tell Jesus that you are a sinner.  Then - - -  

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved."
(Acts 16:31)