Monday, September 26, 2016

Jewel # 261 (Sept. 25, 2016)

url.jpg

“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,

Beware of the Piranha!

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

There is a particular kind of fish in some of the freshwater lakes and streams of South America that has perhaps frightened more people than the fiercest sharks; it is the piranha.  The fear of this fish is easy to understand, because so many true stories have been told about large animals and people being attacked  and eaten by a large school  of these bloodthirsty fish.  Although they are only 4 to 18 inches long, some scientists consider these fierce little fish to be more dangerous that sharks, due to their sharp teeth and powerful jaws. 

Piranhas have one of the strongest bites in bony fishes.  It’s not unusual for a school of of a thousand or more to attack as a group, using their razor-sharp  teeth to strip all flesh from an animal or a human being in minutes.  Sometimes one will sneak up on another fish, nipping off a fin or scale without otherwise attacking it.  The fin soon grows back, and no serious damage has been done.

There are about 30 species of piranhas, but one thing they all have is razor sharp teeth.  These teeth are quickly replaced when the old ones become dull or damaged.  Piranhas can open and close their toothy jaws faster than the blink of an eye.  Some closely related species eat plants, nuts, fruits, lizards, frogs and snakes.

One species, the red-bellied piranha, is only about 7 inches  long but is well equipped for its size with razor-sharp teeth in a thick skull.  It is actually brownish purple on its back, but it has a bright red stomach.  While all are fierce looking, some are noted for their beauty, and the red-bellied is among these.  Another is covered with scales that are olive flecked with gold; others are deep purple.

Their young hatch from eggs laid in nests prepared by both the male and the female.  Once the female has deposited her eggs, the male quickly takes over, guarding them and not letting his mate or any other creature even approach until they have hatched.

Some natives catch and eat piranhas as part of their daily food supply, in addition to selling quantities in fish markets.  They apparently make a tasty meal.

These unusual fish are just another example of the millions of creatures living in water which the Creator took a delight in placing there.  When we consider His power, wisdom and love to boys and girls all over the earth, we all should respond to the Bible verse which tells us to “remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Ecclesiastes12:1).   

No one is ever too old to remember our Creator, and no one is ever too young or too old to accept Him as his or her Lord and Saviour.

Love you all  - Grandpa

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Jewel # 260 (Sept. 17, 2016)

url.jpg

“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 Open-Billed Stork

“The stork in the heaven knows her appointed times; and the turtle dove 
and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their  coming.”
(Jeremiah 8:7)

Except for people living in Florida and Central and South America, few Americans have seen a stork living in the wild.  However, many live in Europe, Africa, India and some other lands.  They are large birds with long beaks and legs and partially webbed feet.  It is a pretty sight to see them soaring  through the air, big wings spread out, long necks extended and legs stretched out behind them.

The open-billed stork is different from other storks in several ways.  One difference is that it makes its rough nest of sticks near marshes, whereas most storks prefer dry, hotter places.  But the main difference is that this one lives almost entirely on snails, and other storks don’t eat them at all.

Here’s how the open billed got its name.  The Creator has given it a special bill because of the way it gets its food.  Other storks have smooth bills, but this bill is grooved all along the edges.  Also, the upper part of the bill curves down and the lower part curves up, so that when the tips are together there is a spot left open in the middle—open-billed.  This along with the grooves helps it to hold the slippery snail shells securely until it has a chance to insert the pointed tip of its bill into the shell, cutting the snail loose and eating it.  Certainly, this specially designed bill is a provision of the Creator, enabling this stork to capture the great number of snails it eats daily.

Open-bills will ride on the backs of hippos wading in the same marshy feeding area.  The hippo pulls up its own grassy food and exposes snails, which are quickly snatched by the stork.

When stork eggs hatch, the little ones are naked, but before long they grow a soft coat of down followed a little later by feathers.  Both parents take care of them, shading them from the hot sun by stretching out their wings over them and also regurgitating food which they have brought for them.  The greedy youngsters eat more than their stomachs can hold, but the Creator has provided for this too.  Instead of making them sick, the extra food goes into a pouch in their throats until their stomachs are ready for it.

These interesting birds provide another example of the way God cares for every creature, large or small, as a Bible verse tells us: “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing” (Job 12:10).  We are told in other Bible verses how much more He loves and cares for every boy and girl in the the world.

Have you ever thanked Him for His loving care over you?

Love you all, 
Grandpa  

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Jewel # 259 (Aug. 31, 2016)

imgres.jpg

“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 Always-Hungry Shrew

“Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field.” 
(Genesis 2:19

There are more than 200 kinds of shrews throughout the world, with 30 kinds in North America.   They are among the smallest known mammals—the tiniest is so small it could be hidden in a man’s closed fist and weights less than a dime.  The largest American shrew is about six inches long, including its tail.  But in spite of their small size, they will attack and with their very sharp teeth they will kill animals more than twice their size.

The reason for such fierceness is that they are always hungry and must eat almost continually during the day, eating about three times their weight daily in order to stay alive.  A boy or girl weighing 50 pounds would have to eat about 600 hamburgers a day to keep up with a shrew!  Do you think you could do that?

Most shrews look like a mouse with a pointed nose.  Because much of their food consists of worms, grubs and insects in the soil, the Creator has given shrews long, slender snouts to explore small holes and crevices for food.

Actually, a shrew will eat almost any living creature it can handle, including small birds and snakes, mice, frogs and chipmunks.  Because their tremendous appetites cause them to eat so many mice and insects, farmers are usually glad to have them around.

Most shrews are good swimmers, but one known as the water shrew outdoes them all.  It can stay underwater a long time, devouring fish, frogs and crabs.  If its food gives out, it will die of hunger in less than a day’s time, so it also eats some land creatures.

Most shrews make grassy nests in the side of a bank or in short burrows, where half a dozen or more babies are born in the spring.  The mother takes care of them, nursing them for a short time and then training them to search for solid food.  In just a few weeks, she leaves them entirely on their own.

Do you think God cares about shrews?  Yes He does, for the Bible tells us, “In His hand is the soul of every living thing” (Job 12:10).  He watches over all His creation, even though sin has spoiled so much of it.

We admire these little creatures but cannot help but think how they remind us of Satan who “walks about, seeking whom he may devour”  (1 Peter 5:8).  Satan is very real, and we can only be kept from his tempting us into evil things if we know the Lord Jesus as our Saviour.  Then we can come to Him in earnest prayer for help, since He “is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).   

Is He your Saviour?
Is He a refuge and strength to you?

Love you all - Grandpa