Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Jewel # 211 (March 31, 2015)

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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 Armour-Plated Pangolin

"Neither is there any creature that is not visible in His sight: But all things are 
naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
(Hebrews 4:13

The pangolin lives in Africa, Asia and Indonesia.  It looks something like a cross between an armadillo and an anteater and is covered with a coat of armour formed by overlapping tough scales, including his tail.  Although his tail is a helpful prop when ripping open termite nests and also a weapon against attackers, the pangolin’s main defence is to roll into a tight ball with only its tough scales exposed.  This makes it almost impossible for enemies to harm him.

These creatures usually sleep all day in deep burrows and look for food only at night.  God has equipped them well to hunt at night.  He has given them sharp, beady eyes to penetrate the darkness and a keen sense of smell to lead them to their food, which is almost entirely ants and termites.  They have large, strong claws on their front feet to rip into ant hills and termite nests.  When the ants’ and termites’ nests are disturbed, they race about furiously.  The pangolin pushes his head into the opening of the nests, flicks out his long sticky tongue and laps them up, hundreds at a time.  A pangolin is toothless, and his tongue begins in his chest.

Termites and ants bite viciously, but that doesn’t bother the pangolin.  The Creator has provided him with transparent eyelids too tough for these insects to bite and nostrils and ears that he can close to keep the insects out.  When those furious ants crawl over his body looking for a tender spot to bite, he just flicks them off with shake of his body.

We might wonder why God made this unusual creature.  Adapting all His creatures to their place in nature is often called “the balance of nature," but it is really “God’s order.”  He has created each for its special place on earth.  Even ants and termites are included, and He has arranged for them to recover rapidly from raids and to rebuild their large colonies quickly.  At the same time, the work of the pangolin keeps such insects from multiplying too fast and doing much damage to forests, buildings and crops.  The Bible tells us about a coming time when all life will be in harmony, and no killing of each other will take place.  Meanwhile, we see His wisdom in placing all things in proper balance.

But He has greater plans for you and me.  The Lord Jesus said to those who love and trust Him, “I go to prepare a place for you. . . . I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”(John 14:2-3).  

That promise applies to you only, if you have accepted the Lord Jesus as your very own Saviour.

Love you all,
Grandpa      

Monday, March 23, 2015

Jewel # 210 (March 23, 2015)

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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,

Salamanders Like to Hide 

“God made . . . everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind:
and God saw that it was good.”
(Genesis 1:25)

We might think that God wouldn’t be very interested in a little creature like a salamander.  But as our opening verse tells us, He not only created the little salamander, but He also “saw that it was good"!  One reason He made them was as a benefit to mankind - they help keep in check the harmful grubs, slugs, worms and insects that damage man’s food supply.

These harmless creatures usually have four legs and a long tail.  There are over 300 kinds, ranging in size from one inch to five feet long.  The most common North American salamander is the spotted salamander, about six inches long.

Most salamanders stay hidden during daylight hours.  Since they must keep their skins moist, they live where it is cool, dark and damp - ponds, swamps, caves or under logs, stones or wet leaves.  Some live in underground burrows.

One unusual species in the tropics spends its entire life in trees, sometimes 100 feet above ground.  It makes its home in the plants that grow on tree trunks and hold water in their leaves.  These salamanders have flat bodies so they can move around in these tight places.  They also have webbed toes and ”suction cup” feet so they can scamper over tree leaves easily.

Another interesting species, the red eft, is only about three inches long.  It starts life in the spring as an egg laid on the leaf of an underwater plant.  When it hatches, it drops as a larva to the bottom of of the pond where it lies for about a year while its lungs develop.   Emerging in the fall, it crawls out on land as an air-breathing creature, brick-red in colour, and heads for a safe, winter hiding place.  In spring, it comes out and spends most of its time waiting for an insect to come close.  Then it flicks out its sticky tongue - so fast it can hardly be seen - and captures it.

Like lizards and newts, God has also given salamanders the ability to grow back lost or injured parts of their bodies.  If a tail or leg is lost, it will grow back quickly.

We might wonder why God put these interesting little animals on earth.  They are part of His whole design  in balancing the rest of His creation.  How wonderfully He has equipped each one to fit its own way of life - whether down in the ground, in water, on the surface or up in a tree.  How good it is to believe the truth of Scripture, that God is not only the creator of mankind too, but also that His Son came to be our Lord and Saviour as well.  

“There is but one God . . .  and one Lord Jesus Christ, 
of whom are all things.” 
(1 Corinthians 8:6)  

Love you all,
Grandpa

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Jewel # 209 (March 18, 2015)

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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 Adelie Penguin

“The world and the fullness thereof, Thou hast founded them.
The north and the south Thou hast created them.”
(Psalm 89:11-12)

Adelie penguins, like all penguins, live in the southern half of the world.  They are like other penguins species in that they stand upright on very short legs and walk with an amusing, clumsy waddle.  These birds cannot fly but are excellent swimmers.

The Adelies look very dignified in their black and white tuxedo suits.  When they arrive at the icy Antarctic in September or October, they march to the exact spot in the rocks where they laid their eggs the year before.  Although seven months have passed since they were last together, a pair recognize each other and return to their own rocky nest.  Since all Adelies look alike to us and the nests all seem identical, isn’t it amazing that they know one from another?  God has given them the ability.

After the two eggs are laid, the female returns to the ocean.  Her mate sits on them for two weeks while she stuffs herself on fish.  Then she returns, and it’s his turn to feed in the ocean for two weeks while she tends the eggs.  When he comes back, he takes on the egg-sitting for one final week.  We wonder at the way God has enabled them to know just when each two- week period has passed.

The parents at first alternate taking care of feeding the twins.  Later, both parents hunt together, and in their absence the babies join other little ones.  When the adults return, they call out, and, even though hundreds of other parents are doing the same, each chick knows the call of its own parents.

Soon Papa penguin begins to provide necessary exercise for his young.  With a little food as a reward, he runs off and they run after him.  Then Papa gives them their reward.  This is repeated several times, until they are filled and have had their exercise as well.  Finally the day comes when he leads them to the ocean and leaves them.  They must jump into the water and find their own food or starve.  The young penguins are reluctant to do this at first, but they adjust quickly once they have jumped in and are soon catching their own meals.

The interesting ways of penguins show one more instance of God’s care over all His creation, for He is the One who directs them in ways we cannot understand.  Is there guidance from Him for you too?  Yes, there certainly is.  His Word the Bible says, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6).   Those who do acknowledge Him as their God and Father find His promise is true.

Love you all,
Grandpa

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jewel # 208 (March 10, 2015)

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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 Fishing Fish

“In His hand are the deep places of the earth. . . . the sea is His,
and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land.”
(Psalm 95:4-5)

One of the unusual creatures in the sea is the angler fish.  This fish lies at the bottom of warm seas.  There are 16 known species, and most of them are less than a foot long.  However, a few are as long as 5 feet.

All species of this fish have wide, frog-like mouths, which is the reason they are sometimes called frog fish.  Their mouths are filled with long, fang-like teeth angled inward, and their mouths can also stretch many times their normal size.  This enables them to swallow fish almost as large as themselves.  These fish are found in a wide variety of shapes, but most have flat heads with bodies tapering down to small tails.  One kind partly buries itself in the sandy or muddy bottom of the ocean and looks like the brown rocks surrounding it.  Others have leaf-like fins that look just like sea plants.  In each case, the Creator has wonderfully camouflaged them to blend in with their surroundings.

The most outstanding feature of these sea residents is that they come equipped with an efficient fishing rod and lure.  They are experts at using them.  The “rod” is actually a growth extending from its nose and may be as long as four times the length of the fish.  The longest “rods” are usually hinged in the middle to make them more flexible.

A rod without a suitable lure would not catch many fish, but these “rods” are already baited with an appealing-looking lure right at the tip.  Depending on the species, this lure may look like a worm, a little fish or a different kind of of sea life that will attract a hungry fish.

The well-disguised angler fish unfolds its rod and uses the lure just like a human fisherman does to attract fish.  While remaining nearly motionless, the angler wiggles its lure until a curious fish comes to inspect what looks like a good meal.  The victim discovers too late that it has been trapped.  The angler fish, with strong sucking, draws its victim into its mouth and swallows it.  Sometimes the lure is swallowed as well, but this does not matter, because it quickly grows a replacement.  

This clever fish is another evidence of the wonders of God’s creation and the care He gives to all.  It also reminds us of our enemy Satan who seeks “whom he may devour “ (1 Peter 5:8) and often tempts us with “lures” that are pleasing to our eyes.  How wise it is to turn away from him and listen to the loving Lord Jesus.  His plan for us is one “of peace, and not of evil” (Jeremiah 29:11).  Have you accepted His plan of peace?

Love you all,
Grandpa    

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Jewel # 207 (March 3, 2015)

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“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 Black-Footed Ferret

“Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty;
just and true are Thy ways.”
(Revelation 15:3)

When western prairies of the United States were being settled many years ago, millions of prairie dog homes dotted the plains.  Because these animals were considered pests, they were hunted and poisoned, so that today hardly any are left.

That poisoning also meant the death of a smaller animal - the black-footed ferret.  Not only were they also poisoned but their main food supply was also gone - the prairie dogs.   Now there are also only a few of these ferrets left, mostly in the state of Wyoming where efforts are being made to protect them.

The pretty black-footed ferret is closely related to the weasel, as shown by its slim body, short legs, alert expression and sharp eyes.  About two feet long from nose to tip of tail, it weighs only a pound and a half.  Its fur is mostly  brown, but its raccoon-like face is white with a black streak across its eyes like a bandit’s mask.  It has a black streak all along its back, and the tip of its tail and its feet are also black, the reason for its name. Being close to the ground, its agile body is well hidden in the grass as it skims along at high speed.

The ferret is a fierce nighttime hunter, often attacking animals larger than itself.  An example is prairie dogs.  They often weigh more than twice as much, but although the ferret may get badly wounded, it is rare for them to loose the battle.  When it is over, the ferret drags the heavier creature to its burrow for eating.  Ground squirrels, mice, rabbits and other small animals are also their victims.

Ferrets sometimes use prairie dog burrows as nests where their kits are born in early summer and raised by the mother.  Sometime before fall, each young ferret moves to a solitary burrow were it makes its home and carries back whatever it captures for its own consumption.

In the Lord God’s original creation all things lived peacefully together, but when Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, that perfection was ruined, affecting all living things.  And today, lions, tigers, ferrets, hawks, falcons, sharks and many other creatures still attack and kill one another.

But the Bible gives us cheerful news about a coming day when “the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the  lion shall eat straw like the ox. . . .  They shall not hurt not destroy . . .for the earth shall be full of  the knowledge of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:7-9).

Before that takes place, all who know the Lord Jesus Christ as their own Saviour will have been called to heaven and will look down on this peaceful scene with thankful praise to God for restoring His creation so wonderfully.  Will you be in heaven with those people?

Love you all,
Grandpa