Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jewel # 136 (April 27, 2013)

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To my dear grandchildren,

Birds on Schedule - Swallows

"Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest
for herself, where she may lay her young."
(Psalm 84:3)

It's springtime here in North America, and let's watch for those pretty, graceful cliff swallows returning agin in their colourful feathers of brown, red, yellow and white.  Through the winter they have been in South America, but their God-given instinct brings them back, thousands of miles, to many parts of North America for nest building, raising of young, and an active life in the northern climate.

Cliff swallows look like their relatives, the barn swallows, but cliff swallows have square tails instead of forked tails.  Their legs are short, and they use them mostly for perching since they catch nearly all of their food while flying.  

The reliability of the cliff and barn swallows' annual return on certain calendar days is a signal to farmers when to plant certain crops.  They know swallows are among their best friends because they help destroy harmful crop insects and mosquitoes.

Cliff and barn swallows like to live near people, either on nearby cliffs, under bridges, or under the eaves of houses and barns.  These birds are sociable, and they build their interesting nests in colonies.  Muddy clay is the building material mixed with gluey saliva and straw.  A  beakful at a time is daubed on the surface they have chosen.  Then one beakful after another is added until the jar-shaped nests extend out five or six inches, with open entrances on the tapered ends.  The insides are lined with feathers and grass, providing a soft, safe place for females to lay three to nine eggs.

The nests in a colony actually touch each other.  Watching a swallow swiftly flying in and out, it is amazing how it avoids entering a neighbour's nest.  But no mistakes are made.  The Lord God who first placed them on the earth has given them remarkable instincts and and abilities in their swift flight patterns.

The mouth of the cliff swallow is an example of how every bird in God's creation is well equipped for its manner of life.  The swallow has been given a short, broad beak that opens wide to scoop up insects in flight and to dig and carry mud for nest building.  It will fly several miles from the nesting site searching for food.  Its wings show the Creator's wisdom too.  They are long and flexible and enable the swallow to make its graceful diving-and-turning flight as it pursues its food.

But God has not only shown His care over animals and birds.  In addition to His care and provisions for wildlife, He extends His love to all mankind.  This was most wondrously shown when He gave His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on Calvary's cross to provide forgiveness of sins to all who will accept Him as their Saviour.  Have you thanked Him for His love to you?  

Much love to you all
Grandpa

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jewel # 135 (April 11, 2013)

To my dear grandchildren,



The Bad-Tempered Camel

"The multitude of camels . . . and the dromedaries . . . shall come.  . . . 
Their riders shall show forth the praises of the Lord."
(Isaiah 60:6)

A camel is not a pretty animal, nor is it know for its good behaviour.  It is one of the most awkward of all domestic animals and among the most difficult to manage.  It has several bad habits, such as biting people or animals and spitting on strangers.  Still, this animal is very useful to desert dwellers, where it is known as "the ship of the desert."

The Arabian camel, sometimes called a dromedary, has only one hump, but the Bactrian species has two.  These humps serve a very useful purpose.  When the animal is well fed, the humps store fat and stand erect and firm.  As it travels across the desert  without food for several days, the camel can absorb the nourishment stored in these humps.  Then the humps shrink and become flabby.  But when the camel feeds again, the humps resume their proper shape.

Camels can go without water for days or even months, depending upon the time of year.  They need less water in cooler months  but will drink five gallons a day in hot weather.  They also get some moisture from their food.

There are many ways the Lord has made special provisions for this large animal.  Each foot has two wide, smooth, hard pads so it can walk easily on hot sand.  At rest periods, it folds its front legs, dropping its forepart to the sand.  Then it folds its long hind legs, and the whole body drops down.  Its knees and chest, which would be painfully scraped by the sand in the process have been given thick, hard pads for protection.

During sandstorms, men cover their faces with cloths to  survive, but a camel needs no special care.  An extra lid, heavy eyebrows and long lashes protect its eyes, while its large nostrils automatically close to narrow slits to keep the sand out. 

The special needs of this peculiar animal were all provided for from the very beginning by an all-wise Creator.  Without this care, they would never have survived in the harsh deserts.

As we think about how the camel's special needs have been taken care of, it is a reminder that God has made a promise to those who love Him.  To those who trust in His Son, the Lord Jesus, He has promised to "supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).  This assures us that there is no limit to what He can do for every boy and girl, man and woman.

He delights in all His creatures, but to mankind He has made special provisions, not only for this world, but also for the world to come.  He has given the promise of eternal life in heaven to all who accept His Son as Lord and Saviour.

Have you accepted this wonderful gift?
(Note the picture below of grandpa)
Love you all
Grandpa

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Jewel # 134 (April 2, 2013)

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"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 Colorful Parrot Fish

"Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters. . . . 
The sea is His, and He made it." 
(Psalm 77:19; 95:5)

The interesting parrot fish received its name because of its bright green and red colors and its parrot-like jaw.  Great schools of a million or more live in southern oceans.

This fish has about fifty bluish-white teeth that are so strong it can pull apart and chew hard, brittle coral to get at the tasty algae found in it.  A mature parrot fish chews enough coral each year to make thirty pounds of sand.   Over the centuries this has resulted in many pretty sandy beaches along the shores of Australia and other countries.  But, sad to say, much beautiful, valuable coral is destroyed by these fish since they do not distinguish between rare, priceless coral and ordinary varieties.  

In June the parrot fish have a strong urge to leave the quiet, shallow, protected reef where thy live and swim into areas where the water is 80 feet deep or deeper.  They  join millions of their kind there that have obeyed the same God-given instinct.  They all become excited, and soon they are swimming violently around until, as if by a signal, all dash to the surface and them immediately turn and swim down toward the bottom.  As they descend, the females release millions of eggs that the males cover with a substance called milt.

This same event is repeated many times by different groups at these spawning places.  Soon it is over and the group breaks up, all going back to the quiet waters of their homes and leaving innumerable masses of eggs to hatch out later in the open sea.

One variety of this fish blows a cocoon of mucous around itself at night, carefully leaving small holes for breathing.  This gives it an appearance of having been carefully wrapped in a silk blanket, which it discards in the morning.  This process is repeated each night.  Although it is uncertain why this variety does this, it may be a provision made by the Creator for protection from night-prowling enemies.

Does the Lord God, their Creator, care about parrot fish?  Yes He does, for the Bible tells us, speaking of all the fish in seas, "These wait all upon Thee, that Thou mayest give them their food in due season.  That Thou givest them they gather: Thou openest Thine hand, they are filled with good" (Psalm 104:27-28).

We also know from the Bible that in greater measure His love has been shown to all the people of the world.  The psalmist joyfully said, "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand" (Psalm 139:17-18).  We should gratefully thank Him every day for His wonderful love and care over us.

Love you all,
Grandpa