Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jewel # 172 (April 23, 2014)

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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 Lovely Finches

“He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. . . .
By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation,
which sing among the branches.”
(Psalm 104:10,12)  

Finches live in all parts of the world except Australia.  Both Canada and the United States have great numbers of these small birds, with about one of every seven birds being a member of the finch family.

The finch most often seen in North America, the American goldfinch, is often called a wild canary.  This is because of its pretty yellow colouring that is so similar to the caged canaries people have as pets, and their chirping and songs sound just like the pet canaries too.  Actually, only the male is lemon yellow with a jet black cap, black wings and tail.  The female has a greenish-yellow body with black wings edged in white.  Both male and female are delightful little birds.

There are many other varieties of finches, since they are the largest family of birds.  One is the blue finch.  The male is bright blue with red and pink on its wings, while the female is plain brown on top and tan underneath.  The cactus finch, which makes its home in the Galapagos Islands, has the remarkable ability to move large stones to get at seeds and insects under them.  In Asia and Europe, birdwatchers love the little snow finches.  These are found mainly in the mountains.  They have pretty, light-blue heads, white throats and underparts, with brown and white wings.

Most finches have beautiful songs, especially when nesting.  They are primarily seedeaters and eat great quantities of weed seeds, with thistle seed being a favourite.  The Creator has given each variety sharp, pointed, cone-shaped bills, strong enough to crush seeds.  These birds, like chickens, have no teeth but swallow food whole.  Their gizzards, which contain grit, grind the food for digestion.  Crops in their throats store the undigested food for later use.

Females build cup-shaped nests so tightly woven that, if the parents don’t cover the nest during a rainstorm and rainwater gets in, the little chicks can sometimes drown.  The male’s responsibility is to keep his mate well fed while she is incubating the three to six eggs.

These birds are another example of the way the Creator has designed each creature for its way of life.  We may be sure, as our opening verse indicates, He not only delights in providing food and water for finches, but their lovely songs are pleasant to His ear as well.

Another Bible verse says, “All Thy works shall praise Thee, O Lord; and Thy saints shall bless Thee.  They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, and talk of thy power” (Psalm 145:10,11).  Does He hear your voice praising Him?

Love you all,
Grandpa    

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jewel # 171 (April 11, 2014)

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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 Scary Crocodile

“Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven,
and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.”
(Psalm 135:6)

The crocodile is the largest of all reptiles, including the huge snakes of South America.  There are twenty-five crocodile species throughout Africa, Asia, Australia and some Pacific islands, as well as in South and Central America and the Everglades of Florida.

Crocodiles are related to alligators but grow larger, have longer and more slender heads, and when their jaws are closed, large teeth show on each side, making an ugly grin.  The alligator’s  mouth doesn’t show these teeth unless it is open.  Crocodiles can live in saltwater as well as freshwater, and they are very sensitive to cold.  Crocodiles release heat through their mouth instead of sweating.

Perhaps you have seen crocodiles in a zoo and thought they were rather clumsy, but in the wild they are surprisingly fast on land, and in water their big tails and webbed hind feet move them along even more swiftly.  They are expert at swimming silently below the surface, snatching unsuspecting birds and small animals that are on the surface.  They are more aggressive than alligators.  

The Creator has adapted crocodiles to a watery life, providing a feature that closes nostrils, ears and throats when submerged, as well as keen eyesight - even after dark - with big, bulging  eyes.  Their bodies are covered with tough, leather-like armour.  Their jaws have sharp teeth, and their long tails serve as a fearful weapon.  When their loud roars bellow out and these weapons are in action, it is no wonder that they are one of the most feared of all reptiles!

A female crocodile lays about three dozen eggs in a sun-warmed trench that she has dug out with her tail.  She covers the eggs with sand or dirt and guards them, with time out only to search for food.  Disaster awaits any intruder that threatens to dig them up!  At the end of a month long incubation, as the little ones begin to hatch, her keen ears hear their sounds through the soil.  Uncovering them with her sharp claws, she picks up a dozen or more at a time in her mouth, without harming them, and carries them to water where she leaves them on their own.  The six-inch youngsters are quite capable of finding their own food, but most become victims of racoons, storks, cranes and even adult crocodiles, until they increase in size.  Out of three dozen, possibly only six or so may survive.

The crocodile has its place in God’s creation and is included - just as every person is - in the Bible verse: “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18).  However, the crocodile’s life is just for this world, whereas you and I have souls that live for eternity.  Can you say that “your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3) through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? 

Love you all,
Grandpa