Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jewel # 105 (Feb 23, 2012)

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

To my dear grandchildren,

"Proud as a Peacock"

"Gavest Thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?" (Job 39:13) 

The name peacock actually applies only to the male.  The female is a peahen, and together they are called peafowl.  Both of them are very pretty, but it is the male that has the most beauty with his thirty-inch body and five-foot tail.  Each feather over his entire body is patterned with a brilliant iridescent "eye."  He seems to enjoy displaying this beauty by frequent spreading his tail and parading around.

These birds are native to Asian countries but have adapted easily to the many places where they have been taken.  The Bible tells us that King Solomon imported them to Israel, probably to roam in his lovely gardens.  The pharaohs of Egypt also imported them.

There are two main colour types.  One is know as the blue Indian.  It has a metallic blue-green neck and breast, with purplish-blue underparts and a long train of greenish feathers.  The blue Indian is the national bird of India.

The other is called Java green, and it has metallic bronze plumage and a crest of long, straight feathers on its head.  It is the more splendid and stately of the two species, with longer and slimmer legs.  Its face is blue or yellow, and the crest of its head forms a long, straight tuft of fully barbed feathers.

Both types are beautiful, but the blues are more popular because they are even-tempered.  The greens are always fighting among themselves and sometimes attack people.  The females (hens) of both varieties are pretty and almost as large as the cocks, but they  lack the long train of feathers and crowns.

The "eyes" of the feathers on nearly all peacocks appear as a deep purple-green pupil, centered in an orange iris, topped with yellow, lavender and green semicircles.  How faithfully the design follows the pattern given by the Creator when He first placed them on the earth!  Each generation of peacocks repeats the design perfectly.

The only thing that spoils these unusually pretty birds is their voice.  It is disappointing to hear their harsh, rough cries that sound like fighting cats or someone desperately calling for help.

"Proud as a peacock" is a common expression.  Of course, the peacocks do not know about it.  But we who have the Bible to read and follow know that we should not let pride come into our hearts and minds.  One Bible verse states: "The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down; and the Lord alone shall be exalted" (Isaiah 2:11).  May we always remember to be humble and give all praise to Him.

"The Son of God, who loved us, and gave Himself for us" (Galatians 2:20).

Love you all

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jewel # 104 (Feb 12, 2012)

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

To my dear grandchildren

The Greedy Pigeon

Every day a pigeon came to our feeder.  It was always alone and always stayed for a long time eating birdseed.  It wasn't satisfied with the seeds on the ground but would fly up to the feeder, hang onto it and flap its wings to spill the seeds out onto the ground.  Then it flew down to the ground again to pick up every seed it could find.  This was certainly a greedy pigeon, and this routine went on for many days.  Sometimes one of us would walk slowly to the place where all the seed had fallen, and eventually the pigeon would fly away.

Proverbs 15:27 tells us something about being greedy,because people can be greedy too.  It says, "He that is greedy of gain troubles his own house."  Another word for greedy is selfish, and we all have known selfish people.  Selfish boys or girls always want to be first in line or want to have the best of everything.  Sometimes they will push and shove others out of the way to get what they want, and some won't share.  Do you like people like that?  Probably not.  Because other boys and girls don't want to be around them, greedy or selfish children make trouble for themselves.  That's what the last part of the verse means when it says "troubles his own house." 

And that's what the greedy pigeon was doing.  One day I saw it being very bold and very greedy.  Then I had to run some errands and was away for a few hours.  When I came back home, I could see a very large bird in the yard by the feeder.  When I looked closely, I discovered it was a hawk and on the ground around the hawk were feathers - pigeon feathers!  That hawk was just finishing a pigeon dinner.  The greedy pigeon spent so much time eating seeds on the ground that it didn't look around to make sure there were no enemies nearby, and it got caught.  Its greediness made trouble for itself.

This is a lesson not only for children, but for grown-ups too.  It's easier to learn not to be greedy or selfish when we are young.   Usually parents and teachers will remind us when we are being greedy or selfish.  The Bible has another good verse that will help us to be fair and nice to everybody.  "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).  That will make you happy, and that will make the Lord Jesus happy too. 

Love you all,

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Jewel # 103 (Feb 1, 2012)

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

To my dear Grandchildren

The High Leaping Impala

"Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).

South Africa has a great variety of animals; some are hunters and vicious and others are gentle and harmless. Among this second group are several closely related antelopes such as the gazelles, klipspringers, springboks and impalas.  The impala is a beautiful animal.  Its velvety coat is a soft brown colour over its head, neck, back and legs, but plain white on its underparts and another patch of white under its stubby tail.  Its nimble legs are long and slender but surprisingly strong, and for a good reason, as we will see.

This timid animal is only about three feet high and weighs between 100 and 150 pounds.  Males have V-shaped horns, beginning with a short backward slant and then straightening upward a total length of two or three feet.  These horns are indeed a part of the Creator's display of beauty on this animal.  They look like an artist might have carved them.

The impala is quite content with the food supply of the prairie - herbs, bushes, shrubs and the most important and nourishing Savannah grass.  But there is the constant threat of a lion or other prowling hunter.  When an impala becomes aware of an enemy, it barks an alarm, and in a flash the whole herd scatters in various directions.  This is where their slender, strong legs are so valuable, as they run for safety in a series of dashes and long-distance jumps as high as ten feet and as far as thirty feet in single, graceful leaps - a beautiful sight.

When bounding away from danger in these great leaps, the front feet are in the air on the first bound.  When the hindquarters come up, the white patch under their tail becomes a signal to others that danger is present and its time for them also to get moving.  The lion, presuming it is well hidden, seems to be surprised at the swift action and gets confused as to which impala to chase.  When it hesitates, sometimes they all escape.

The Creator has also provided another means of warning through tick birds that frequently ride on an impala's back.  These birds not only rid the animal of pesky insects but also give their own warning when they see danger approaching.

The Creator's care over these gentle animals should remind us that His care over us is even more tender.  He invites you to prove His wonderful love, as the writer of Psalm 147:11 expresses it so well: "The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear [respect and love] Him, in those that hope in His mercy."  Has He ever had the pleasure of hearing you thank Him for His love?