Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jewel # 181 (July 26, 2014)


“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, Strong Buffalo

“I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground,
by My great power and by My outstretched arm.”
(Jeremiah 27:5)


One of North America’s wild animals is called a buffalo.  Actually, it is not a buffalo; it is a bison.  The true wild buffalo live in the grasslands, swamps and mountains of South Africa and Asia.  Domesticated species live in Egypt, Europe and South America.  All range in size from 450 to 1500 pounds and are 3 to 5 feet high at the shoulders.  They have short, thick necks, broad heads, long tails, short legs and long, pointed horns curving outward.

All buffalo are good swimmers, and they are never found far from rivers or water holes.  They also enjoy neck deep mud baths, often shared with hippos.  They do this to escape the hot sun and relieve the bites of pesky insects.  Lets look at two kinds.

The coal-black Cape buffalo of South Africa is the largest.  It is about five feet tall and weighs over half a ton.  It is a terrifying experience to have this large animal charge you.  It can run at more than thirty miles an hour and fears neither man nor beast.  It is not a very attractive animal with its huge, low-slung, ivory-coloured, curved horns, which look like a helmet that has been draped from the top of its massive, ugly head.  

However the Cape buffalo does have some friends.  Birds called ox-peckers perch on the buffalo’s back and sides, eating their fill of ticks and other insects that they pick from the animal’s hair and skin.    These red-beaked birds are equipped by the Creator with special claws on their feet for holding onto the animal’s sides while feeding, just as a woodpecker clings to the side of a tree.  Both animal and bird find this a great convenience, and the relationship between the two is another example of how God frequently arranges for two entirely different creatures to help one another.

Another species, the water buffalo of India, is somewhat smaller and has an entirely different character.  Given a chance, it seeks marshy places and lies in the water when chewing its cud.  Large numbers are tamed and pull carts, drag plows through rice paddies, and carry loads on their backs.  Although fierce looking, they do not attack men, and when they are tamed, even little children can handle them easily.  Buffalo have very good memories.

The Lord God has taken delight in creating even these buffalo, some of them serving mankind and others just filling their place in His purposes of creation.

The Bible reminds us of this in these verses: “Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?  In whose hand is the soul [life] of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:9-10).

Love you all,
Grandpa                       

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Jewel # 179 (July 2, 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 Praying Mantis

“The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works.”
(Psalm 145:9)

Late in the fall, the female praying mantis lays a mass of 100 or more eggs, which she glues to a tree or shrub with a sticky substance from her body.  This sticky substance covers the eggs and protects them throughout the winter months.

When spring warmth arrives, the eggs hatch and the larvae begin lives of eating insects.  Sometimes the stronger ones even eat their weaker brothers and sisters before they get away.  Exposed to the air, the larva skin promptly hardens, but as it grows, the skin splits open and drops off.  This process, called moulting, is repeated several times, until by mid-summer the larva has finished its growth and its wings appear.

The praying mantis prefers to catch its prey alive.  Its green or brown colour camouflages it to look just like part of the plants on which it rests.  It holds its front legs up, making it look like it is praying, and remains perfectly still until some unsuspecting victim comes along.  With a head that can turn 180 degrees, it usually doesn’t have to wait long before seeing a beetle, caterpillar, fly, aphid or other insect coming close, which is quickly captured.  The front legs of the mantis have sharp hooks, and once the victim has been grasped, it has no chance of escape.  God has given it an instinct to bite through the nerve center at the back of the victim’s neck, bringing instant death.  A praying mantis has only one ear, on the underside of its belly. 

Its way seem cruel, but since it destroys many harmful insects, it is a friend of every farmer and gardener and should not be harmed by anyone.  Since they are so beneficial, egg cases (each with many eggs inside) can be purchased to place in fields and gardens to control many harmful insects.

In observing the ways of this insect, we see another example of the way God has arranged for the care of one more of His creatures and at the same time providing a necessary means of helping to control harmful insects. 

As the mantis appears to be praying but is actually waiting to catch its food, its manner of life makes us think of those who do not really know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, yet they appear to be religious.  The Lord saw many people like this and on one occasion said, “Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing . . . and the chief seats in the synagogues, and . . . which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers” (Mark 12:38-40).  

But to those who sincerely seek the Lord, He promises them, “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).  He will always hear your prayer when you speak to Him with a true heart. 

Love you all,
Grandpa