Thursday, July 14, 2011

Imitators


"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children"
(Ephesians 5:1).

We really enjoy watching our chickens roam about in the yard.  They entertain us with their antics.  For one thing, they are curious to the point of being nosy, straining their necks to see what is going on around them. They are also jealous and competitive to the point of being contentious.  If one hen pecks at the ground, the others all come running to see what she found, pushing and grabbing to claim it for their own.  And they imitate each other.  What one does, they all have to do--like little copycats playing "follow the leader."

It's fun to watch in chickens, but this kind of behavior is not so humorous among people.  When we cling to gossip, become jealous of others, or try to keep up with our neighbors (or even show them up), we are following the ways of the world rather than doing the will of God our Father.  As God's children, redeemed by Christ and renewed by His Spirit, our desire becomes like His: wanting to encourage and help others, to make sacrifices in order to share with those less fortunate, and to have humble hearts that are willing to serve.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).


;

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

First Grapes


First Grapes at Maple Grove
"How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land. (It was the season for the first ripe grapes)" (Numbers 13:20).

A few years ago we bought some grape plants and put them in the ground.  It has taken some effort: sinking posts for fencing and adding wire for the runners; applying fertilizer and mulch; combating droughts and insects.  At one point we even thought two of the plants had died out.  Now, finally, we are rejoicing in the "fruits" of our labor--our first grapes!!

In our daily Christian walk we plant the seeds of God's Word in our conversations with others.  We nurture these relationships as we lovingly offer our support through acts of kindness.  We stand by them when times are tough and when Satan attacks.  In our efforts, however, it is not we but the Holy Spirit who produces the fruit of Christian faith and love.  Without Christ in us, our labor is for nothing.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cairn


Cairn at Maple Grove

"And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God,
an altar of stones" (Deuteronomy 27:5).

Cairns are man-made heaps of stones that have been erected all over the world since ancient times.  Varying in size and complexity, they serve as landmarkers. Some are built to mark graves, summit tops, or trailways.  Others mark the location of historical or memorable events. A carefully built cairn will stand perfectly balanced without the use of cements or adhesives.

In Old Testament times, God's people built altars of stones to mark the places where God rescued them or performed mighty acts. We built this cairn at Maple Grove several years ago as a monument to the greatness and goodness of our God.  It serves as a memorial for us to recount the ways He has blessed us and to testify to His mercy and faithfulness.

"When your children ask their fathers in times to come,
'What do these stones mean?' then you shall let your children know. . .
 that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear
the LORD your God forever" (Joshua 4:21-24).


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Snow White


"Though your sins are like scarlet,they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson,they shall become like wool"
(Isaiah 1:18). 

The beauty of spring:  Eye-catching foliage found in dense, white snowballs and feathery, scarlet maples. 

The beauty of the Cross:  Heart-grabbing forgiveness found in the pureness of Christ's love and the shedding of His blood that wipes out our darkest sins and makes our hearts clean. 

"These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14).


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Surrounded


"You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance" (Psalm 32:7).

Our home is surrounded by a variety of foliage; some of them are old heritage plants passed on from previous generations.  Whenever we hear the word "surrounded," we may think of being hedged in--by trouble or the enemy, with no way out. That surely is something we face in our lives. But there is another kind of being surrounded that does not leave us feeling defeated.

Christ surrounds us with His love and protection, keeping us safe and secure from temptation and evil's destruction. His presence gives us confidence, filling us with genuine peace and joy. 

We are also surrounded by the memory and encouragement of those who went before us, who taught us the Christian faith and passed  it on to us as a godly heritage.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us"
(Hebrews 12:1).


;

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bearing Fruit


"I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit"
(Leviticus 26:4).

While we all complained about the steady doses of rain this spring, we nevertheless have been admiring and enjoying the new growth and full blossoms the rains brought forth, even from a very tender young tree.

At a tender young age, I remember complaining about having to memorize Bible verses for confirmation classes.  I am grateful now, however, for the steady dose of God's Word that produces the fruits of the Spirit in a Christian's life.

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-25).

;

Friday, May 20, 2011

Not the End



"See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your fathers, told you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" (Deuteronomy 1:21).

I gently slid the window open to peek at the nestlings who hatched from their eggs only two weeks ago.  All three of them were facing outward, peering over the edge of the nest.  As I raised my camera to capture a photo, they all sprang from the nest and flew straight ahead.  Their abrupt flight startled me and left me feeling disappointed that I wouldn't see them again.  I reflected on what a joy it had been to watch them grow and mature, and I was glad I was there to see them fly away.  I stared at the distant trees and realized that a wonderful new world was waiting for them to experience.

A wonderful new world is waiting for those who belong to Christ. Whoever believes in Him "has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 5:24)As long as we are here on this Earth, we continue to grow and mature in our faith until He brings all things to completion.  At that time, He will create a new heaven and a new earth, so that death is not the end but only the beginning.

 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. . . and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:1-4).

Thank you for following Lady Robin's story.  Continue to visit http://www.skyredatnight.blogspot.com/ for more observations of God's presence among us.  God bless you.


Jesus said, ". . . whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14). 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A'flap'a Your Arms


"They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD. . . Then shall the
young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and
the old shall be merry" (Jeremiah 31:12-14). 

Baby birds know instinctively how to flap their wings before they leave the nest. But it takes time and practice for their muscles to strengthen before they become good at flying.  So these young nestlings spend part of their day entertaining us with the Bird Dance.  Do you know it?

"Uh well a'shake'a your shoulders and a'move'a your feet.
We're gonna stomp to the Bird Dance Beat.
Uh well a'flap'a your arms and a'move'a your hands.
We're gonna rock to the Bird Dance band."

Some people think that Christians are straight-laced, boring, and don't know how to have fun.  Maybe some are.  It depends on how you measure what's fun and what's boring.  Those who are in Christ have more to sing about, more to dance around, and more to rejoice over than any other people in the world! So with songs in our hearts, light steps in our feet, arms stretched upward in gratitude, let's rejoice over the greatness of God's love and praise Him forever!

"Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! . . .Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! . . . Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!" (Psalm 150:1-6).

The Bird Dance Beat -  The Trashmen, 1964

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

By What Appearance


"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart"  (1 Samuel 16:7 ).

This young Robin is learning the skill of preening its feathers and spends a lot of time in this activity.  The birds' feathers are important for flying, body temperature, protection from the environment, and even for courtship.  Without feathers, they could not survive, so it is a vital part of their nature to pay careful attention to their grooming.

We are taught good grooming practices from the time we are young.  Taking care of our bodies is God-pleasing and essential to our good health and to our relationships.  Unfortunately, we live in a superficial world where people judge each other by their looks. The temptation is to put too much emphasis on outward appearances.

God doesn't focus on our outward appearance. It is what's on the inside--the condition of our "heart"--that matters most to Him. He focuses on developing our inner beauty so that He is reflected in our lives by what we think, say and do.

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is vain: but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).

"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror" (James 1:23).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fear Not


"For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I am the one who helps you'" (Isaiah 41:13).

The baby Robins are getting stronger.  They flit about in the nest with eager activity, standing and stretching and watching the world around them.  For the most part, they feel very secure and safe. When they were younger, they didn't notice when I would slide open the window to sneak a quick peek at them, but now they cower down in fear. Their fear instinct has kicked in.  That's a good thing, because they are going to need it.

We, too, have fear instincts that protect us from danger. Unfortunately, we have also trained ourselves (or allowed Satan to persuade us) to be afraid and to worry excessively every time trouble draws near.  Jesus assures us that He is always with us and is our Strength.  When we put our trust in Him, He gives us peace and joy and a sure hope that will not disappoint us.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Heads Up


"Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28).

It has only been 11 days since these baby Robins hatched from their eggs--blind, naked and helpless.  Now covered in feathers, their eyes wide open, they are able to move around in the nest and peer out into the world around them. It will not be long until these nestlings become fledglings, ready to venture out on their own.  They will have to pay close attention as they have much to learn about surviving in the world.

Like birds in a nest, our time on earth is short, but a glorious kingdom awaits those who belong to Christ.  Now is the time to pay attention to His teachings and learn of His redemption before it is too late.  There is no other way to eternal life.

"And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away"
(Isaiah 35:10).

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Meaning of Life


"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly"  (John 10:10).

Now that the days are sunnier and warmer, Lady Robin doesn't need to spend as much time in the nest keeping the nestlings warm.  She can feel their body temperature and instinctively knows whether or not they need her added warmth.  She remains nearby to watch the nest but lingers in the yard with the chickens, competing for some worms and insects and enjoying life. 

When people  refer to "the good life" or say things like "this is the life" or "live life to the fullest," they are usually making reference to some kind of physical or material pleasures.  But that kind of living doesn't satisfy for long. It doesn't last forever. 

When we walk with Jesus, life takes on a real vitality that surpasses anything else we've known.  It is only when we live with Christ that life becomes really worth living and we begin to live in the real sense of the word--now and for eternity.  This is the true spiritual meaning of "the abundant life."

 "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).


Oops


  "If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, LORD, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can,
with reverence, serve you" (Psalm 130:3-4).

This would have been one awesome photo!  Would have been, if I hadn't messed it up.  I waited patiently by the window for one of the Robins to come to the nest with food for the nestlings.  I do that a lot--stand patiently by the window with my camera ready, waiting for the good shot. 

Lady Robin flew up to the nest, and just as I was about to press the shutter button, Sir Robin suddenly appeared.  I was so stunned that I looked up as I released the shutter and messed up the shot.  Of course then it was too late to get another good one.

Sometimes that's the way it is with our Christian walk.  We start out on course, but then we get distracted, and we mess up the opportunity to do what is pleasing to God.  But with God there is forgiveness, and He gives us many opportunities to be a good witness for Him. 

"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 2:22-23).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grow Up


"We are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ" (Ephesians 4:15).

It is astounding how fast these baby birds are growing!  Just two days ago, they were much smaller and had only a little bit of down covering their bodies.  Now they fill the nest and are sprouting tiny feathers.  The food, warmth and protection their parents provide for them is helping them to grow up into mature Robins.

When we first become Christians, we are spiritual infants. We receive spiritual food from God's Word, and we learn to trust Him through the greatest difficulties. We exercise our faith by practicing the love, forgiveness and generosity He taught us.  As we grow up into mature Christans, we become more and more like Christ.

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mouths Wide Open


"Open your mouth wide and I will fill it" (Psalm 81:10).


I don't think I've ever seen anything that could open its mouth as wide as these baby Robins.  Their beaks are disproportionately large for their bodies.  They also make a lot of noise.  No one taught them to open their beaks so wide or to squawk the way they do, but one thing's for sure--the parent birds can't ignore or miss these targets. 

That's how we ought to be praising God.  We might think we don't know the right words to say or are afraid that we won't say it eloquently.  That doesn't matter.  Not in the least.  All we have to do is open our mouths, and the Spirit of God will put the words to our voices.  In fact, we can't even open our mouths to praise God on our own without the movement of the Spirit in us.  So don't worry.  Don't hold back.  Open your mouth so as to honor God, and He won't miss the target.

"O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise"
(Psalm 51:15).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sound Asleep


"The hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11).

Three sleeping baby Robins, now four days old.  Lady Robin still sits on the nest to keep them warm.  The down covering on their tiny bodies is increasing.  They raise their heads and open their beaks wide when the parent birds bring them food.  Beyond that, they don't move around much, and they sleep most of the time. 

Sleeping is something most of us probably don't get enough of. . . or at least we'd like to get more sleep than we do.  Spiritually speaking, however, sleeping is the last thing we want to be caught doing. 

Jesus taught us how to stay awake spiritually by listening closely to His teachings, reading the Scriptures with our minds and hearts open; praying diligently for protection from the evil one; and receiving His Spirit and forgiveness in Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.  The Spirit of God will thus keep us "wide awake and alert" for our Lord's return.  Only God the Father knows when that last hour will be.

"Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep" (Mark 13:35-36).


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Proud Parents


“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).

Today the third egg hatched, and I noticed that the male's role has increased.  The Robins have very strong instincts for helping each other and taking care of their young.  The male brings food to Lady Robin and the baby birds--earthworms, insects and berries.  Occasionally the female will leave the nest, but when she does Sir Robin stays with the nestlings until she returns.  The baby birds will grow rapidly and be ready to leave the nest in two to three weeks.

Birds and animals act out of instinct, but humans act out of emotions, wisdom and obedience.  God created man and woman in His image and gave them children so they could be a loving family, as He is loving.  Because of our sinful condition, God gave us commands regarding our treatment of each other.  When the family is faithful to God's will, it is strong and glorious!

"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged" (Colossians 3:19-21).


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Hatchday


"Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. . . .I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit'"
(John 3:3-5).

It has been 14 days since the first egg and 12 days since the third egg was laid. Right on target.  I could tell something was different today, because Lady Robin was chirping a lot and standing on the edge of the nest as much as she was sitting on it.  So I took a quick peek and saw that two of the eggs had hatched.  The parents have already tidied the nest and removed the empty shells. Baby birds are hatched blind, naked, and helpless, just as human babies are. They are totally dependent on their parents for survival.

Seeing new life is so exciting, including within the plant and animal kingdoms.  It is more exciting to see new human life, and even more thrilling to witness new spiritual life in the Kingdom of God's grace.  We humans are born not only physically but also spiritually blind, naked, and helpless. The Holy Spirit, through the Word of God and Baptism, creates new life within us--revealing Christ to us, clothing us with His righteousness, and strengthening us with His power.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:3-5).



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Stand Firm



"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

Male and female robins are similar in appearance, except that the male generally has a darker head and breast. While the females sit on the nests incubating their eggs, male robins roost together in trees at night and stand close by their nests during the day.

We face many challenges in this world.  Christ does not promise that life here will be easy, but He does promise to always be with us and to give us strength to face those challenges.  This world is temporary, but God's love and salvation endure forever.

"Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD,
 which he will work for you today" (Exodus 14:13).


Monday, May 2, 2011

Whirlybirds


Maple Seeds at Maple Grove

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:7).

When I was a young child I called Maple seeds "helicopters" or "whirlybirds."  I used to love to chase after them and try to snatch them out of the air.  As the seeds mature and are released from the trees, they immediately begin to rotate and spin. Floating and scattering to the ground below, each has the potential to develop and grow into a tall Maple tree.

We have a lot of Maple trees at Maple Grove. So many tender Maple saplings sprout up in our flower beds that we have to pull them out.  We replant some of them in pots of dirt, water them, and nurture them along. 

That's how it is with God's Word.  He is the Author.  He delivers His Word to us so that when we read or hear it, the Holy Spirit produces new spiritual growth within us. 

"No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:11-13).


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day and Night



"By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life" (Psalm 42:8).

Lady Robin is absolutely devoted to incubating her eggs.  She sits on her nest day and night, leaving it only briefly to feed.  She does all the incubating, and her mate often brings food to her. 

God is attentive to all of our needs day and night.  He hears our prayers and provides us with all that we need.  He guards us against every kind of evil and loves us with such devotion that He "did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all" (Romans 8:32).  There is no greater joy than to know and receive God's endless love.

"The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Exodus 34:6).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Inside Look


"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known"
(1 Corinthians 13:12).

This is the view from inside the shower!  Not the clearest view, but it's obvious that it is Lady Robin sitting on her nest.  For 12-14 days she will leave the nest for only five to 10 minutes at a time to feed. Several times a day she will turn or rotate the eggs with her beak to even out the body temperatures of the growing baby birds.  She will spend most of her time incubating her eggs until it is time for them to hatch. 

In the Holy Scriptures, God has given us an inside look at His love and mercy.  Ever since the first man and woman rebelled against Him, God began to reveal His plan for our salvation.  At just the right time He fulfilled His plan through His Son--Jesus came to deliver God's promise of forgiveness. He came to give us life after death, and when He comes a second time, He will bring all things to completion.  What comfort, peace and joy this gives us!

"With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ" (Ephesians 1:8-10).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Guard and Protector


A robin usually lays three to four eggs in a clutch.  It appears that Lady Robin decided to stop at three. The robin's whole purpose is to produce more robins, and everything they do instinctively is toward this end:  migrating, nesting, courting, laying, incubating, and caring for their young.

Did you know that in the United States all native migratory birds, including the American Robin, are protected under federal law? Under The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, it is illegal for anyone to possess a protected bird, its nest, its eggs or even its feathers unless they have the required federal and state licenses. It is also illegal to disturb an active nest. Penalties for violating this law include up to $500 and/or up to six months in jail for each offense.

That's a lot of protection!

Our Heavenly Father goes out of His way to protect us from all dangers that would threaten our relationship with Him.  Enjoy reading Psalm 91 and rest assured in the safety of God's protection.

Psalm 91
     Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 
     He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 
     You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 
     If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 
     You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Friday, April 22, 2011

Three Eggs



"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20) 

Three days, three eggs.  Lady Robin is more visible these days as she is very protective of her little clutch.  She comes to the nest frequently to check on her eggs, and when she is not in the nest she is nearby where she can keep an eye on them. 

That's how it is with Christ in our lives.  He promises to always be with us to direct and protect us.  He comes to us through His Word and in His Sacraments, and He invites us into the Holy Trinity. 

"That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:20-21).

Furthermore, our spiritual walk is strengthened when we are united with Christ in fellowship with other Christians.  A Christian marriage, for example, is more than the union of a man and a woman. When Christ is the center of the marital relationship, God unites the couple in a covenant relationship with Him.

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Second Egg


 “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign,
 they may believe the second" (Exodus 4:8).

Robins are a lot like chickens.  They lay one egg a day, and when there is clutch of three to four eggs, the robin will begin to sit on them to keep them warm so that the baby birds will develop and hatch. Robin eggs will incubate for 12 to 14 days, whereas chicken eggs incubate for 21 days.  Today Lady Robin laid her second egg in the nest next to her first egg.
:
"The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man
is of heaven" (1 Corinthians 15:47).

While Jesus is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, God's Word also refers to Him as "the second man."  The first man, Adam, was created by God out of the dust of the earth.  Adam was disobedient to God, and so he and his offspring after him are a fallen race, subject to the God's punishment and death.

But God loves us and wants to save us, so He sent His Son, Jesus (the "second man," begotten of His Father), who lived in perfect obedience yet took on Himself the punishment and death that we deserve.  Jesus rose from the grave in victory over death, and His spiritual offspring (those who believe in Him) will also rise up and live with Him forever in His heavenly Kingdom.

"Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many;
and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin,
but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him"
(Hebrews 9:28).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The First Egg



"But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first"
(Matthew 19:30).

It feels a little bit like an Easter egg hunt.  Today I discovered the first egg in the robin's nest.  That was exciting!  I hadn't seen Lady Robin in a few days since she finished building her nest.  Each day I'd peek out the window, but the nest remained empty.  Today I was very surprised when I saw the little blue egg resting in the nest.

"First" is always exciting.  We all love at times to be the first to do something or to know something.  There seems to be something in our nature (or in the way we were nurtured) that gives us this propensity to want to be first (or best).  

Jesus taught us, however, that “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).  By this He means that whoever has a humble servant's heart such as He modeled for us is truly among the first and greatest in His Kingdom. Christ, whom we worship and glorify, is the First and the Last, the one and only eternal God.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,
the Beginning and the End" (Revelation 22:13).

 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Waiting Game


"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

It has been three days since Lady Robin built her nest on our bathroom window sill.  I haven't seen her since then.  Don't ask me why.  From what I've read about robins, she builds her nest and then lays one egg a day until there are three to four eggs in the nest.  Then she begins to incubate them.  So now it's the waiting game. Only time will tell if she decided she didn't like the location of her nest after all, or if she's not ready to lay her eggs.

This reminds me of how impatient we can be waiting to see what God has in store for us.  What is it that you are waiting for?  God has a plan for you.  In His time and in His way, He will reveal it. And it will be good.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11).


Friday, April 15, 2011

Building for the Future


"Unless the Lord build the house, those who build it labor in vain"
(Psalm 127:1).

This week I noticed a robin beginning to build her nest on the sill of our bathroom window.  A few times a day I would reach out the window and brush off strands of dried grass and clumps of mud.  This went on for several days. 

It is for the robin's good that I object to the location.  This window is situated inside our shower/tub surround and close to the adjacent family room window.  While the robin has her eye on this choice property, I know that the "neighborhood" will not provide this family of robins the privacy they need. 

Although her will and mine are in opposition to each other, the robin's instincts are strong, and she is very determined.  She refused to give up.  When I got home late yesterday afternoon, I saw that she had really busied herself and finished building her house.  I did not have the heart to tear it down. 

We'll have to watch and see how this robin story turns out.  We're not so different.  We often oppose God's will in our lives even when He throws obstacles in our way to deter us.  We have to remember that He knows what is best for us.  We can turn to His Word and approach Him in prayer as we seek His good and gracious will.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways... As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts"
(Isaiah 55:8-9).


Monday, April 4, 2011

Castaways


Castaways at Maple Grove

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19-20).

Tucked away in the woods at the back of our property are some castaways from days gone by:  an old potato plow and a wheelbarrow.  Now rusted and discarded, they were once brand new and valued by their previous owner.

Throughout our lives we acquire one "treasure" after another.  Some are practical things we genuinely need for our daily living; others are things we want and seem to think we can't live without.  Sooner or later all of it either wears out or loses its appeal.  In any case, we won't take any of it with us when we die.  There is only one treasure that is truly of real lasting value:  the Word of God with its message for eternal life.   "The word of the Lord remains forever" (1 Peter 1:25).

"My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God" (Proverbs 2:1-5).




Wednesday, March 30, 2011

God's Storehouse


Farm Scene at Maple Grove
"Oh, how abundant is your goodness,which you have stored up for those who fear you" (Psalm 31:19). 

While I don't so much enjoy seeing the trees bare of their leaves throughout the long winter months, one good thing I can say about it is that it opens up some scenic views that we don't get to see the rest of the year.  Most of the barns that surround our property and dot the countryside around us have been in use for many years.  The farmers use them to shelter their animals and to store up provisions of feed and hay for them.

God stores up provisions for us too. For those who love and trust in Him, He has a storehouse of goodness and blessings in such rich supply that we can't even begin to imagine.

"Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need" (Malachi 3:10).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sundown

Sundown at Maple Grove
"He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down" (Psalm 104:19).

Spring is here.  We haven't had snow for a week now, but there's still time for more.  Where we live, the trees are bare and brown for half of the year.  I am more than ready to see green leaves again.  Yet there is beauty to be seen in the trees even when they are stripped.

God planned for all of the seasons and is in control of them.  Also the sun, the moon, the planets and stars.  He is in control of the weather, the universe....and yes our lives!  We don't always want to acknowledge that.  In the roughest of times we sometimes feel like God is not in control, but He is. We need to trust Him.  He knows best.

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body" (Philippians 3:20).


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wings

Sky Scene at Maple Grove
 “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest" (Psalm 55:6).

There is a bird in flight high up in the sky, going where she wills.  Much higher there is a jet leaving a vapor behind it.  It's hard to believe there are dozens of people sitting inside, soaring through the air above us.

We tend to take air travel for granted these days.  When I was a young girl, I remember the impressive sights and sounds of those early high-speed jets.  "Sky scrapers!" we called them, excitedly pointing to the sky.  And we frequently heard loud sonic booms when the jets exceeded the speed of sound.  We don't hear them anymore because of regulations of aircraft speed over land.

The marvels of man at times seem so impressive, but they are nothing in comparison to the majesty and power of our great God!

"The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants" (Psalm 104:2-4).


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Out of Season


Snow Scene at Maple Grove
"Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season"
(2 Timothy 4:2).

The first few days of spring usher in warmer days and sunshine, budding trees and greener grasses.  It's always so tempting to put away the snow plow, shovels and buckets of salt.  But we don't want to be caught off guard.  Winter does not give up easily and usually makes an encore performance.

We don't want to be caught off guard when it comes to spreading God's Word either.  The stresses and pressures of daily living and worldly temptations can distract us so that we lose sight of what's most important--giving God glory and sharing His message and His love with other people.  He is always with us to strengthen our faith and give us what we need to carry out His mission. 

"He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning" (Daniel 2:21).


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Open and Shut

 


Barn Scene at Maple Grove
 I never tire of looking at this barn.  It is old.  It is rustic.  It is falling apart.  But it is so inviting!  I can't avoid looking at the door--so white and stark against the aged wood and tarnished roof!  In years past, how many times has this door been slid open to move farm equipment or let animals in or out?  This door reminds me of so many messages from God's Word.

In ages past, God instructed Noah to build an ark, and He told him to put a door on its side.  When the rains came, God told Noah's family to enter the ark.  He also led the animals in, and then God shut the door, keeping them safe inside.

"The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in"
(Genesis 7:16).

Jesus called Himself "The Door," meaning that He is the only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life.  Those who enter through Him are kept safe in His care forever.

 "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,
and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9).

We don't want to be caught on the outside when the door to the Kingdom is shut. We must pay attention to Jesus' Word and listen to His voice.  We need to follow Him where He leads and receive the free gifts He has to offer.  The door opens and closes--opens to let in those who believe, and then closes to those who refuse His invitation.  The door represents both joy and sorrow.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and
the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7).

Super Moon


Super Moon
There was a "super moon" in the sky last night, March 19, 2011.  It is the closest the moon has been to the earth in 18 years.   It has been in the news and on the Internet.  It is big and bright and glorious!  Everyone has been talking about it saying, "Did you see the moon?  You have to see it!"

As bright and beautiful as it is, it pales in comparison to the brightness and glory of God.  Yet, I don't hear a lot of people saying, "Have you seen Him?  You have to see Him!"

"Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you" (Isaiah 60:1–2).

Moses asked God to show him His glory.  As God passed by him, He proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).  He gave Moses a glimpse of His glory, but more was to be revealed.

"And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 40:5).

God made His glory fully known to the world through His Son, whom He sent to show us the full measure of His love.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

"The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word" (Hebrews 1:3).

And God passes this glory on to us.

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Have you seen Him?  You have to see Him!  Meet Him in His Word, the Holy Bible.  Meet Him in the lives of those who know and love Him.  He is The Light of the world and the full glory of God!  There is nothing or no one more super!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Large and Small of It



Maple Grove Eggs
"For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest”
(Luke 9:48). 

Most of the eggs we gather at Maple Grove are of a similar size.  Larger than extra-large, I call them jumbo eggs!  Occasionally, however, we get an egg that is extremely large or extremely small. Regardless of size, each egg has a yolk, the white, and a shell, and in some way serves us in a breakfast, a casserole, a dessert, or some other tasty dish. 

God creates each of us uniquely, and He gives spiritual gifts to those who believe in Him to be used for the common good.  We don't all have the same gifts, but we each have one or more.  As we use God's gifts to serve each other, Christ's Church grows and is built up in love.  With a servant's heart like that of Jesus, the least in God's Kingdom becomes the greatest!  

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are diferent kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. . . All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines" (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11).


  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Foster Chicken

Foster and Rose

"Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times"
 (Mark 14:29).

One day a stray Barred Rock rooster suddenly showed up in our yard among our Rhode Island Reds. At first our chickens didn't want anything to do with the intruder.  They totally rejected him!  Eventually, however, they did warm up and let him in the flock.

I like having the rooster in our yard.  When I hear him crowing it reminds me of the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf even though we don't deserve it.  On the night He was handed over to His enemies, our Lord told the apostle Peter that he would deny Him three times before the cock crowed twice.  It happened as He said.

"Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow" (John 18:27).

At that moment, Peter remembered Jesus' words and wept bitterly.  How many times have each of us denied Christ?  Any time we fail to acknowledge Him or tell others of His great love, or directly disobey His will, we deny Him too.  Praise God, however, for He readily forgives our shortcomings and gives us many more opportunities to love and serve Him. 

Peter denied Jesus three times that night, and after His resurrection, Jesus gave him three opportunities to express his love for Him.  Three times He asked Peter, "Do you love me?" and each time Peter answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." 

The rooster has become a symbol in the Christian church representing denial, remorse, repentance and forgiveness.  The rooster's habit of crowing at dawn each morning is a symbol of Christ's victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and life over death.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

"Word of Life" Tree at Maple Grove
"The word of the Lord spread through the whole region" (Acts 13:49).

We light up this maple tree with green lights on March 17 to remember the mission and ministry of St. Patrick in Ireland but, more importantly, to remind us of the new life in Christ that springs from the spreading of the Word of Life.  

May the Good New of salvation through Jesus Christ spread throughout the land in our generation as it has in generations past. 

To God be the Glory!


 St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints.Born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461.

As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep.  Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him. During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote: 

"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."

Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family.

He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more." He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.

Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message.

 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Light of Life

Lighted Path at Maple Grove
  "Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path"
(Psalm 119:105).

When darkness surrounds us it's hard to see where we are going.  We stumble and grope as if we have no sight.  A lamp deliberately placed so that it lights up the walkway keeps us from tripping and falling. 

The same is true of our spiritual walk.  We live in a world full of spiritual darkness where the truth of God is covered up with lies and deceits.  People rebel against God and reject the truth.  Groping in the dark, they stray from the right path and lose their way. 

Jesus is the Light that shines in the world of spiritual darkness.  He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).  God gave us His Word to reveal this truth to us and to show us the path to eternal life.

"You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my
darkness into light"  (2 Samuel 22:29).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Birth


Baptized into God's Family
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Of all the images of God's creation, none is more beautiful than that of the new creation in Christ Jesus.  The birth of a baby is a miracle.  The new birth through water and the Word is even more glorious! 

God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them.  Then sin entered the world and, through sin, death.  But Christ loved the world and gave His life for the salvation of all people. 

We look all around us and see the glory of God revealed in the beauty of His creation.  We look to Christ and see the mercy of God revealed in His Son.  Anyone who is baptized into Christ is a new creation with the promise of eternal life. 

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:4-7).

For more information about Christian baptism:  http://www.stlukecabot.org/Church/caregiving/baptism/baptism.htm

Friday, March 11, 2011

Empty Nest

 
Bird Nest at Maple Grove

"Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.  Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you" (Psalm 84:3). 

Birds, like all of God's created beings, have very strong instincts.  Last spring a pair of robins built this nest in the branches of a young maple tree.  Birds don't sleep or "live" in their nests.  They build them exclusively for breeding purposes. They build the nest, lay and hatch their eggs, feed their young, and then leave the nest. 

In the fall, when the cold weather begins to arrive, the birds instinctively migrate to southern areas for the winter.  Now, with the return of warmer days, the birds are making their way back home.  They seem to be more in touch with their Creator than are many people.  They instinctively follow the path that God laid out for them, whereas we so often resist the direction God is carving out for us.  Are you in some way struggling against God's plan rather than yielding to His will?  Isn't it time to return "home"?

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:7-10).