Thursday, June 16, 2016

Jewel # 251 (June 11, 2016)

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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

Birds of Paradise 

Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field,
and every fowl of the air.”
(Genesis 2:19)

There are more that 40 species of birds of paradise.  Each is so outstandingly beautiful that when the explorer Magellan first took some back to Spain, the people said they were so dazzling that these birds could only have come from paradise.  And so that’s how they got their name.

It takes the male five or six years to get his mature plumage, but once he has it, the use of his feathers in courting a female companion is very important to him.  The female does not have the beautiful colours.  This is a wise provision of the Creator, because in her dull colours she is not easily spotted by enemies that would like to catch her or her eggs.

Birds of paradise live from sea level up to 6000 feet above sea level in New Guinea, Australia and a few South Sea islands.  The males have the most brilliant and extraordinary plumage of any bird in the world.  Usually these birds nest in trees, often near the very top, and generally lay one to three spotted, white eggs.  When these hatch out, they become the full responsibility of the female, as by then the male bird has flown away to find another companion.  Only on rare occasions does a male help a little in feeding the young ones.  This behaviour may seem disappointing to many of us since we appreciate it when both parents share responsibilities and are loyal to each other.

The diet of these birds includes fruit, berries, seeds, insects, frogs and reptiles.  These birds have stout bodies and are heavy-billed, and without the long plumes and “wires,” they vary from the size of a robin to that of a crow.

Noted for their loud, clear calls that can be heard for quite a distance, as well as their beautiful colouring, the different species have been given a wide variety of plumage.  Some have a pair of wire-like tendrils anchored to their backs and extending out in unusual ways two or three feet past their tails.  Also, beneath the wings of some are long, delicate plumes in contrasting colours or sometimes in pure white.  These can be raised and spread out like a cape over their bodies.

All plainly show the pleasure of the Lord God in creating so many beautiful varieties of these birds, as well as uncountable others that have obeyed His command and multiplied throughout the entire earth.  There are many of these birds that have never been seen by man, but the eye of their Creator is always on them. 

Love you all
Grandpa

Friday, June 03, 2016

Jewel # 250 (May 31, 2016)

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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

Slave-Maker Ants

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
walks about seeking whom he may devour.”
(1 Peter 5:8)

In the deserts of Arizona, there are ants known as the western slave-maker ants.   Unlike other ants, these are not capable of hunting food for themselves or for their young, and they could not live without other ants doing this for them. 

Because of this inability, slave-maker ants make raids on another species of ants known as the formicas, and here’s what takes place.  Several times a year the leaders in the nest send out scouts to find formica nests.  When the scouts find these nests, they come back and somehow tell the others the “good news.”  Then a huge army of several thousand takes off behind their scouts, following them to the unsuspecting victims.

With no warning, the slave-makers march right into the formicas’ nest, but they don’t attempt to fight them.  Instead, they spray the entire area with a chemical from their bodies.  This chemical does not bother the raiders, but it is so unpleasant to the formicas that the queen and all her workers get out as fast as possible.  However, they cannot take with them the thousands of their babies, known as pupae, which have not yet hatched.

That is exactly what the raiders want to happen.  Each raider grabs one pupa and carries it back to its own nest.  Thousands are carried back where some are eaten by the hungry raiders.  Most are carefully looked after and in a short time develop into full-sized formica ants.  These captives are taught how to go after food to bring back for themselves and for their captors.  Of course, these newly hatched ants can’t remember anything about their former home and fit right into this pattern, apparently accepting the fact that finding food for the others is their job.

The cruel and selfish ways of the slave-makers bring to mind our opening Bible verse, telling us to beware of Satan who is always wanting to devour us.  Another verse in 2 Timothy 2:26 talks of people who are caught in “the snare of the devil . . . taken captive by him at his will.”  Just like the slave-making ants, the devil wants to make us his slaves and make us serve him.  Every person in the world is often tempted by him, although many do not realize Satan is their cruel master.

But for those who know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, there are many other Bible verses to help us resist the evil one.  “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).  James 4:7-8 tells where to turn for help:  “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."  

We are invited to turn to God in every trouble, and we can be sure of His loving help. 

Love you all,
Grandpa