Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jewel # 92 (August 21, 2011)


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

To my dear grandchildren,
Cheerful Ovenbirds

"The glory of the Lord shall endure forever: the Lord shall rejoice in His works"(Psalm 104:31).

Ovenbirds were not named because they are baked in ovens, but because their nests look like an old-fashioned baker's oven.  There are many varieties of ovenbirds throughout North and South America.  In North America they are found only east of the Rocky Mountains.  They are all noted for their lovely songs, especially when a bright moon lit night brings them out to sing in groups. 
Bird watchers admire their unusual oven-like nests.  However, it takes much searching to find one since they are well hidden.  The nests look like ovens or igloos and are constructed with twig-supported mud or clay, with a small opening on the side.  Usually they are built right on the ground, up against a fallen tree and near a pile of brush or leaves.  They are so well hidden that a person may walk right past one and never see it.
When a male ovenbird wants to attract  a mate, he puts on quite a display.   With wings and tail spread out, he hops around with his head bobbing up and down excitedly.  If a female is impressed, they are soon busy building a nest.  This is done very carefully.  As it progresses, if they are not pleased with any part, they will remove that section and do it over.
After the eggs are hatched, the mother carefully protects her chicks.  When she leaves them for any reason, she stays close to the ground to avoid letting the nest be discovered, running like a mouse for a good distance before taking to the air.  When she returns, she does the same.
South American ovenbirds are found in the northern part of the continent, some in deserts, some on ocean shores and others in mountains as high as 16,000 feet above sea level.  These usually make their nests somewhat differently from their North American relatives, although following an oven-like pattern.  One variety seems to prefer being near people and even makes its nests in plain sight.  They are often build snugly on top of a fence post or tree stump.
Who taught these unusual birds to build such elaborate nests and how to raise and protect their young?  Who gave them such sweet songs?  Of course it was the Lord God, their Creator, of whom the Bible says, "O Lord, how manifold [what varieties] are Thy works!  In wisdom hast Thou made them all" (Psalm 104:24).  None of the birds or animals is aware that they are always watched over by their Creator, but we who experience His daily love and care to us should always thank Him.  The psalmist declared, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men" (Psalm 107:8)! 
Have you ever thanked Him for His love and care?


Monday, August 08, 2011

Jewel # 91 (August 8, 2011)


"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,

Two Big Rabbits

"I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.  The beast of the field shall honour Me" (Isaiah 43:19-20)

In desert country, you may not have to travel far before seeing a jackrabbit.  It may be sitting up on its hind legs watching you, or it may be leaping away in a zig-zag course to get out of sight.

The jackrabbit has big ears, yet all species do not have the same size ears.  Those in Australia have enormous ears.  They provide a keen sense of hearing and also act as "coolers" by giving off body heat in the intense heat of that land.  The ears of jackrabbits in Canada and the United States are much shorter, since they live in colder areas and need to conserve heat in the cooler seasons.  How wise our Creator was to help these active animals to be comfortable no matter where they live.

The jackrabbit has a keen sense of sight.  Its eyes see forward, sideways and even behind.  This, along with its keen sense of hearing, helps keep it alert to the threats of enemies.  Its great hind legs enable it to make leaps and bounds at speeds up to forty-five miles an hour.  It can also jump five feet in the air while leaping five or ten feet in distance.

The snowshoe rabbit is a cousin of the desert jackrabbit.  This species can live comfortably in a cold climate.  It has long, strong hind legs like its relatives of the south, but its ears are much shorter, since it needs to conserve its body heat in that climate.

A very special feature the Creator gave this rabbit is the "snow shoes" it wears in winter.   Its feet, about twice the size of a jackrabbit's, have toes spread wide apart.  As winter approaches, long hairs grow between the toes, forming a pad.  This permits it to walk on top of the snow and easily leap through it in ten-foot jumps.

In addition, God gives it a white winter coat in exchange for the brown one of summer.  When sitting still on the snow, it is almost invisible.  Towards spring as the snow melts and rocks and brown soil begin to appear among patches of white snow, this rabbit's white coat changes to a mottled one, helping it to blend with the ground.  When all the snow is gone, its coat returns to brown again for the summer.

These animals do not stop to think about God's care over them or the special features He gave them when they were created.  God's care over us is very real too, and we should think about not only His care, but His great love for us.  For those who know that love and have found salvation through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and His death on Calvary, He encourages each one to "Cast all your care upon Him; for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).