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."