Friday, January 31, 2014

Jewel # 164 (Jan 31, 2014)


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To my dear grandchildren,

Three Little fish

"Thou Lord hast made . . .  the seas, and all that is therein, 
and Thou preservest them all."
(Nehemiah 9:6)

The six-inch archerfish lives in East Indian waters and is very clever at catching its food.  This little fish waits near the surface of the water until a low-flying insect comes by.  Then it shoots drops of water from its mouth at the insect.  If the water hits the insect, its wings become wet so that it cannot fly.  When it falls into the water, it is eaten by the archerfish.  How did this fish learn to do this?  No practice was necessary, for the Creator gave it this skill when He created the very first archerfish on the fifth day of creation.  The archer fish can jump up to a foot out of the water to catch its prey.

Instead of laying eggs at the bottom of a marshy pond where it lives, the egg hanger fish hangs them on sticky threads suspended from underwater plants.  The female produces one string of this sticky thread for each egg she lays.  With the egg firmly stuck to one end, she attaches the other end over the plant so it can hang down freely.  She continues until there are about 150 all hanging separately in the swampy water.  Then she swims away and does not return.

The eggs don't need her care, for the One "upholding all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3) watches over them, just as He does when they hatch and swim away. 

The splashing tetra is a three-inch fish found in Brazil and Venezuela.  When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she searches for a bush with leaves hanging over, but not in, the water.  The she jumps up and lays her eggs on a big leaf before dropping back to the water.  Doesn't this seem strange?  Wouldn't you expect the eggs to dry out and die?  That would certainly be true, except that we can see it is another of the wonders of the Lord God who designed such interesting features in His many creatures.

The eggs don't die because both parent stay in the water under the leaf and, with flips of their tails, continually splash water on them.  After three or four days, the little ones hatch and drop into the water.  Then the parents swim away. 

These unusual fish are not able to think of the One who made them and provides for them.  But you can, and God has given you the responsibility to acknowledge Him and thank Him for supplying all your needs.  What is even more important is that He invites you to accept the everlasting life He offers.  The Bible tells us that this new life can only be yours through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died on Calvary's cross to put away the sins of all who trust in Him.  Have you accepted Him as your Saviour?

Love you all,
Grandpa 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jewel # 163 (Jan 24, 2014)




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To my dear grandchildren.

Multi-Coloured Kingfishers

"Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field,
and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam."
(Genesis 2:19)

There are about 100 species of kingfishers, ranging in size from 6 to 18 inches and divided into two families - the water and the forest.  Many of the forest family never go near water and live on insects, small rodents, snakes and lizards. 

The water kingfishers, which are more common, make their homes in hollow trees or dig burrows in a bank where the young hatch and develop before going outside to learn to fish on their own.  The Creator has given these birds unusual colouring.  Many are quite pretty with high crests on their heads.  For instance, the common, which is the smallest, has colours that change according to the angle of light.  At times it appears sky blue, but as it turns on its perch it becomes a beautiful emerald green, with a variety of colours on its head and throat.

By contrast, the largest is the African giant that is not as brightly coloured as the smaller ones - a speckled gray above and light brown beneath.  The small malachite from Ethiopia has a speckled-gray head topped with a crest of a dozen feathers.  White patches on its head and on its neck blend with a rust-coloured beak and legs.  A soft-orange breast and underparts and pretty purple feathers on its back, wings and tail complete this beauty.

In North America the most commonly seen is the belted, about twelve inches long.  You may have seen one on a branch near a stream, patiently waiting until . . . suddenly it dives headfirst into the water and returns with a fish in its beak.  Incidentally, kingfishers do not spear fish with their beaks as we might think; they grasp them with open beaks.  Kingfishers also eat snails, frogs and crabs. 

Perhaps millions of these birds live in various parts of the world, and people never see most of them.  But there is One who always watches over them.  He has told about His care over lowly sparrows (also true of kingfishers).  In Luke 12:6 He said, "Not one of them is forgotten before God."  Then He adds, "Ye are of more value than many sparrows" (vs 7).  The Lord wrote these words to tell of His love and care over each person in the world and to give His invitation, "Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of Man [Himself] also confess before the angels of God" (vs 8).

To "confess the Lord before men" means to confess Him as your Lord and Saviour before others.  When this is done with a true heart, not only will He tell the angels you are His, but your name will also be written in the Book of Life and will never be removed.  Have the angels been told your name?  Is it written in God's Book of Life?  

Love you all,
Grandpa

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jewel # 162 (Jan 11, 2014)

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To my dear grandchildren.

North America's Flying Squirrels (Part 2) 

"This also cometh forth from the Lord . . . 
wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."
(Isaiah 28:29)

The outstanding feature that makes flying squirrels different from their most common relatives is their amazing ability to travel considerable distances through the air.  Although they appear to be flying, they are actually gliding, which in itself is outstanding.

On the underpart of their bodies is a loose flap of furry skin on each side, not easily seen when they are scampering up a tree trunk or along a branch.  Each flap is attached to the front leg and stretches back to where it is attached to the hind leg.  This forms a "kite" that enables the squirrel to glide from one tree to another or safely parachute to the ground from a high point.

How do they do this?  A flight begins high in a tree with the squirrel first bobbing its head in every direction, apparently sizing things up before taking off.  Then it makes the leap with all four legs spread out as far apart as possible stretching the loose skin into a tight kite.  Its target will usually be a lower point on the trunk of another tree, sometimes as far as one hundred feet away, but usually closer.  Gliding through the air, its flat tail acts like a rudder to keep it on course and then is lifted straight up to act as a brake just as it lands.

It always lands in an upright position with the claws of all four feet gripping the tree's surface tightly.  It immediately scoots around to the other side of the tree before venturing farther, an instinct the Creator has given it to preserve it from an owl or other enemy that might have seen it land.  

Nests are usually a hole in a dead tree trunk, sometimes one abandoned by a former owner and freshened up with leaves, moss or feathers. There the mother will raise up to half a dozen little ones, caring tenderly for them for a few weeks before introducing them to the pleasures of gliding.  Her first task is to take them gliding, one by one.  She grasps a baby's loose skin in her mouth while it holds on upside down with its legs wrapped around her neck.  Don't you imagine that's quite a thrill for the little one?  It is not long before they venture forth on their own without need of gliding lessons, for the Creator has given them a natural instinct for it.  

In the coming happy time when those who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour will be in heaven with Him, they will exclaim: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasures they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11).

Will you be there? 

Love you all,
Grandpa

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Jewel # 161 (Jan 8, 2014)



(The Northern Flying Squirrel)


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(The Northern Flying Squirrel)


To my dear grandchildren,

North American Flying Squirrels - Part 1

"Be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create."
(Isaiah 65:18)

While there are many flying squirrels in lands south of the equator, there are only two look-alike varieties in North America.  The northern lives mostly in Canada and is about the size of a common gray squirrel.  The southern is slightly smaller and lives in the forests of the eastern United States.

Their name in Latin means "gray mouse that flies," and because of their amazing movements through the air, in some places they are known as "fairy diddles."  Actually, a more realistic name would be "gliding squirrels," for they do not actually fly but, as we will explain in the next article, they have special bodies which enable them to make gliding leaps between trees.  A flying squirrel can typically glide up to 150 feet. 

Unlike the gray and red squirrels which are active during the day time and which are familiar to most of us, both of the North American "flyers" are active at night.  This is why they are seldom seen, and people are often unaware that they are in the neighbourhood.     

These squirrels do not hibernate, but if the weather gets unusually cold, a dozen or more will keep warm by snuggling together in a nest.  Once the weather warms up, they resume their activities.

These closely related animals are alike in many ways.  They all tend to have grayish-brown  backs and white underparts.  Their pretty fur is thick and silky, and their chins have long whiskers.  They all have flat tails nearly equal in length to their bodies, large ears, and big black eyes.  It is plain to see how the Creator wisely provided these features to help them in their manner of nighttime activity.

They are playful creatures, chasing each other from tree to tree or scampering up the trunk, accompanied by loud squeals.  When gathering nuts, they sometimes stop their work and bat some around, apparently just for the fun of it.  In fact, seeing their different playful ways, they seem to be one of of the few animals that get much pleasure out of all that the Creator has done for them.  They don't seem to take life seriously and have been seen exchanging what appear to be kisses with their companions.  However, on rare occasions when they become irritated, one might be spotted stamping its feet like a spoiled little child or lying on its back kicking its feet in the air as if to pummel a real or imagined enemy.

In many Bible verses, the wonders of the Lord God's creation are spoken of, such as the words of King David: "I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all Thy marvelous works" (Psalm 9:1).  There is real joy for all who, like King David, do this with their whole heart.  Do you?  (To be continued)  

Love you all,
Grandpa