Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jewel # 272 (Jan. 28, 2017)

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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,

Swamp Loving Bitterns

“I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are Mine.”
(Psalm 50:11)

If you spend time in swampy areas and look closely, you may happen to see one of the lovely bitterns that live in the swamps.  Being part of the heron family, there are many varieties throughout the world, and two of them are residents of southern Canada and northern United States.

Lets look at one named the least bittern.  It is called “least” because of its smaller size compared to other bitterns.  It is about 12 inches long when measured from its feet to the tip of its long bill when it stretches its neck straight up.  Its body is only about the size of a quail or robin, but its legs, neck and bill are much longer.

The Creator has provided this secretive bird with colours suited to hiding in its marshy home of cattails, tall reeds, long grasses and low bushes.  Its feathers are light brown except for  a black crown and back.  Similar colouring on its neck and breast is lightly striped in black tones.  This combination makes the bittern almost impossible to spot when something has alarmed it, and it freezes with its bill pointing up in the midst of swamp foliage.

It also turns its front and both eyes toward the source of alarm.  If the wind moves the reeds, the bittern sways with the movement of the reeds.  Adding to its excellent camouflage, the striped colouring of its long neck and breast look like the reedy plants in which it stands.

One reason bitterns like such watery surroundings is the plentiful food found there—fish, eels and frogs.  They also eat mice and other small animals, various insects and seeds.  Unlike most birds, they do not flock together.  Usually only one is seen by itself or occasionally a pair.

Bitterns are among the world’s most cautious birds, preferring to stay in the surroundings that hide them so well.  Only occasionally will they venture out into open water or into a close-by meadow for a meal of grasshoppers, other insects or seeds.  They can run fast on open ground but fly slowly, keeping close to the tops of the reeds and brush.

Nests are built above water level where from three to six young are raised each year.  The mother bird does all the incubating and feeding of her brood until they can care for themselves.

As we look at even a few of the multitudes of bird varieties in the world, it give us happiness to realize the Creator, the One who is Lord of heaven and earth, has found pleasure in them all.  But He says in Proverbs 8:31, “My delights were with the children of men.”  You are much more important to Him than any bird, fish or animal—so important to Him that he died on the cross for you.

Is He important to you? 

Love you all - Grandpa

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Jewel # 271 (Jan. 13, 2017)

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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 Amazing Honeybee

“How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
(Psalm 119:103)

Without the work of the honeybee, the world would soon starve. Its work in pollinating blossoms is essential to the development of many kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains and other plant foods and also the reproduction of many other flowering plants.

The hive of the honeybee is a marvellous example of community living. As many as 50,000 bees will work together in unity, building a hive of honeycombs made up of hexagonal cells.  In one square inch, there are exactly 4.83 cells.  How do they make such an exact measurement? No one knows other than God who has created them and given them their unusual skills. 

Whether building honeycombs in a hive provided by a beekeeper or in a hollow tree or in any other location, the work always follows the same pattern.  Young worker bees produce beeswax in special glands in their bodies.  This wax is attached to the ceiling.  Then, working down, the cells are built one by one all the way to the base.  Several groups of bees begin building from different parts of the ceiling, gradually all coming together to make a complete comb.  Where the sections join together, the result is still the same—all adjoining cells a measure exactly 4.83 to the square inch!

Thousands of bees are busy right now, each adding its tiny bit to what others have started.  The walls of the waxen cells, only two or three thousandths of an inch thick, are so fragile that you could easily crush them in your fingers, yet strong enough to support the weight of the comb as well as the weight of the bees working on it.

Once the comb is completed, the workers then turn their attention to making honey, which they use as food.  The bee fills a special pouch inside its body with nectar from several blossoms.  In the pouch, the sugar and nectar are broken down into two simple sugars.  After the nectar is deposited in the hive, most of the water in the nectar evaporates and the liquid becomes thick.

Surely we need not ask where these busy workers get the wisdom needed to build these complex homes, nor how they work together in such unity.  God, “which doeth great things and     unsearchable; marvellous things without number” (Job 5:9), is the one who has set their ways and kept them in the same pattern since the day He first created them.

 As King David thought on God’s ways which provide so many benefits to man, He said, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8).  His greatest work of all was on the cross where He became the Saviour of sinners.
Is He your Saviour?          

Love you all
Grandpa

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Jewel # 270 (Jan. 4, 2017)

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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,

Fringed-Toed Lizards

“Thou art great, and doest wondrous things: Thou art God alone.  
Teach me Thy way, O Lord.”
(Psalm 86:10-11)

There are more than 2,000 kinds of lizards throughout the world, and the fringed-toed lizard is perhaps the most amazing of all.  It gets its name from the small, tough scales on its hind toes that swivel like tiny paddles when making its way across loose sand.  It can run over this loose sand with amazing speed or, when necessary, dive into it for safety. 

This is a cute little creature with a slender, orange body about three inches long.  They live in southeast California and southwest Arizona, also in northwest Sonora and northeast Baja, California.  This lizard lives comfortably there among huge sand dunes that are also occupied by tarantulas, rattlesnakes, rabbits, quail and a wide variety of other creatures.

Rough, furrowed skin covers the lizard’s body, but its underbody, throat and legs are smooth.  Its flat body and pointed snout, provided by the Creator, aid when diving headfirst into loose sand for safety.  With surprising speed, it buries itself completely and disappears from view, either lying motionless beneath the sand or moving off quite a distance without being detected.

How can this creature breathe under the sand?  The Creator has taken care of that need in a remarkable way.  He has given it a special nose like no other creature has.  Part of its nose is a trap beyond which sand cannot pass, although allowing the small amount of air to pass which it requires.  When back on the surface, it simply blows out the trapped sand.

The lizard’s eyes have been given additional protection from harm.  Each eye has two overlapping lids, preventing even the tiniest speck of sand from reaching the delicate part of the eyeball.  One of these lids acts just as yours does—blinking up and down when something threatens; the other moves from side to side to do the same thing.  If, as rarely happens, a speck of sand gets past this double guard, it simply wipes it away with a fringed toenail of a hind leg.

This lizard apparently gets sufficient moisture from eating the flower buds, stems, leaves, and seeds of desert plants.  If this is not enough, it can move out into the morning fog that condenses and runs down its furrowed skin into its mouth, which it holds lower that the rest of its body for that purpose.  Besides the desert plants, it also eats ants, beetles, grasshoppers and caterpillars.

As the opening verse expresses, we can see an example of the marvellous designing that speaks of the greatness and wonder of God and His creation even in a little creature like this.  Pondering this, the psalmist said, “Teach me Thy way, O Lord” (Psalm 86:11).  That excellent desire should be in the heart and mind of each of us also. 

Love you all - Grandpa