Monday, February 22, 2016

Jewel # 241 (February 21, 2016)

"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,

Lions of the Sea

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. . . . 
Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof.” 
(1 Chronicles 16:31-32)

A visitor approaching San Miguel Island, 50 miles off the coast of California, might wonder at the noise he hears even when a mile away.  He would soon discover the source—a colony of California sea lions, part of the 35,000 sea lions that make the Channel Islands National Park their summer home.  Large bulls, six to seven feet long and weighing 650 pounds or more, roar during their waking hours to warn rival males to stay away.  Cows join in the noise but with a softer bark.  Even the pups add their bleating to the deafening noise.  It is no place for a seaside picnic.

There are about 90,000 sea lions in the pacific Ocean; most live along the California coast, but many also live on the coast of Japan.  These sea mammals have streamlined bodies with smooth, round heads and can swim up to 15 miles per hour.  The Creator gave them brown, warm fur to insulate them from cold and heat.  Their bodies also have thick blubber for two reasons—as added insulation against the cold and as an energy source when food is not available.

In some ways sea lions are similar to walruses, but they don’t have the walruses tusks and tough whiskers.  They share the same food preferences of shrimp, shellfish, squid and many kinds of fish.  They are excellent swimmers and divers and can stay under water for 30 minutes.  In this, too, the Lord God provided for them by giving them ears and nostrils which automatically close when submerged.

Fights between the bulls are frequent as they compete to get and protect territory on the beach.  These are frightful to witness as sharp teeth make bloody wounds.  However, their thick blubber usually protects them from serious injury.

Pups are born on land.  Immediately after birth, the mother and her single pup “talk” constantly to each other.  They become so well acquainted with each other’s voice that, in spite of all the bellowing and roaring noise, they can identify one another when they become separated.  Pups quickly take to the water where they love to play.  In captivity, they can be trained and quickly learn tricks.

Many sea lions living in obscure places are never seen by people, but there is One whose eye is always on them:  “He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heaven" (Job 28:24).  The Bible also tells us, “The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men” (Psalm 11:4).  No matter how hidden you might be, the Lord’s eyes always see you.  

What does He see when His eyes rest on you?

I love you all,
Grandpa          

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jewel # 240 (February 15, 2016)

“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 Adaptable Lizard

"These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping 
things . . . the chameleon, and the lizard.”
(Leviticus 11:29-30)

Although declared by God as “unclean” and not to be eaten by the Israelites in Old Testament times, the 3000 varieties of lizards are very much a part of God’s creation and care.  They are found nearly everywhere in the world except the Antarctic.  They usually live in warm, rocky places but sometimes are found in trees or in water.

The chameleon and most other lizards can actually change the colour of their leathery skin, even showing strips like a zebra or showing several colours like an autumn leaf.  They can also shed their entire tails when attacked.  The wriggling, separated section attracts the enemy’s attention while its owner escapes.  Soon a new tail grows back.  Every lizard has a long, sticky tongue for catching insects.

Each lizard has been especially designed by the Creator to fit into its surroundings.  Those on rocky cliffs have needle-sharp claws and hang onto rocks so tightly that if forced off, their claws remain behind.  They also have special scales under the tails to help them cling to steep surfaces.  Tree-climbing monitors and iguanas, which have special toes for climbing, also use monkey tricks, like climbing and swinging by grasping tree branches with their tails.

Those species that live in the desert are coloured like the sand or rocks and often change colour as they move about.  Burrowing species have wedge-shaped heads, and their ears and nostrils are protected from the sand by shields.  They have tough scales on their feet to help dig, and some even have shovel-shaped feet for this purpose.  Some of these “swim” through sand as fast as fish swim through water.

Flying lizards glide from tree to tree, having webs of skin like flying squirrels.  The flying dragon looks like a coloured leaf traveling throughout the air.  The gecko can shed its skin to escape an attacker and also makes long airborne leaps.

Many lizards make short runs at more than 15 miles an hour and sometimes run upright on their hind legs.   Several species easily adapt to civilization and often scamper over walls, ceilings and floors of houses.

The abilities of these little creatures are another example of the wonders of God’s creation.  However, not one of them is able to think about the Lord God who created it and cares for it “by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).

While the Lord God cares for all His creation, He has said only to man:  “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31:3).  Have you responded to His loving-kindness by letting Him forgive your sins? 

All you have to do is come in faith and accept Him as your Saviour.

Love you all,
Grandpa

Monday, February 08, 2016

Jewel # 239 (February 7th, 2016)

“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 grand children,

The Meerkat

“O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast." 
How excellent is Thy loving-kindness.”
(Psalm 36:6-7)

Meerkats make their homes in southern Africa in two wild areas protected from hunters.  One place is called Kruger National Park and the other Kalahari Gemsbok Park (named after the deer-like gemsbok which is the park’s main resident).  Sharing these areas are gnus, springboks, hyenas, lions, leopards and ostriches.  The Creator has provided them all with abilities to adapt to the red sand dunes and hot, open country with its infrequent watering holes.

These reddish-brown, squirrel-like animals are a member of the mongoose family.  They are noted for living in groups of 25 or more.  Their lifestyle is rugged, and their major enemies are eagles, hawks and other birds of prey.  Another enemy is the cobra, but like the mongoose, meerkats are usually too quick to be caught and even seem to enjoy teasing these vicious snakes into striking without success until they give up.

Meerkats spend much time searching for food, consisting of insects scratched from the sand, as well as mice and lizards. While some are searching for food, others frequently stand upright on their hind feet (much like prairie dogs), in groups of a dozen or more with heads tilted back, on the alert for their enemies overhead.  If one is seen, a shrill warning is given, and all immediately dive into their nearby burrows.

A meerkat is not likely to wander off alone, for the group habit of watching out for each other is really the secret of their survival.  Those hunting food make a purring sound, enabling the others always to know where they may be.  If one wanders to an area where the watchers no longer hear the purr, they call it back.

When food is scarce, they move as a group to another location, usually where ground squirrels have already dug out burrows.  The meerkats take over without so much as a “thank you.”  Twice a year from two to four kits are born in these individual burrows and kept there for about a month.  When allowed outside, they find others to play with and are often joined in their play by older brothers and sisters and sometimes parents, all of whom help in their training.

The clever ways of meerkats in surviving and even thriving in such barren country remind us of the wisdom  of the Lord God when He created them and adapted them to such unusual conditions.  And He has done this with all His creation, as our beginning Bible verse indicates.  But of more importance, He has provided a home in heaven for every man and woman, boy and girl who accepts His loving invitation:  

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

Have you accepted this invitation?

Love you all,
Grandpa