That’s for the Birds!

 

Ah, my cardinal! I love to watch all the birds, but the cardinal brings a special delight and joy to me. He often is accompanied by Mrs. Cardinal, whose brown body and rust-colored head doesn’t attract predators. They take their turns at the feeders, with one waiting on a branch nearby while the other feeds. Here he’s waiting until the sparrows leave.

 

 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. –Matthew 10:31 NKJV

Ever since our daughter gave us a birdfeeder for an anniversary present, DH and I have become avid bird watchers. Two feeders and a suet cage hang from the big red maple tree in our front yard, close enough that we can enjoy watching the finches, juncos, chickadees, blue jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, grosbeaks, wrens, and cardinals take their turns.

It’s amazing how different they all are! Their colors, sizes, shapes, sounds, and behaviors all are unique and distinct to each of the nearly 10,000 species.

This Baltimore oriole was one of three that stopped in for a visit on May 7, 2014.

Imagine my delight when I spied three orioles one spring day. They must have just been passing through because that was the only time I saw an oriole. Another time a northern mockingbird, also a rare sight, alit on the branches.

During the summer months, a hummingbird feeder hangs on the back deck. How we enjoy their antics, especially when they buzz the deck, chasing each other. Did you ever notice how long the hummingbird’s beak is? It’s longer than that of other birds – long enough to extract the nectar from deep within a flower.

The rose-breasted grosbeak is an infrequent visitor, so spying one is a delight.

Other birds, I learned, also have beaks suited to their way of feeding: The short, thick beaks of the grosbeaks and finches enable them to crush hard seeds. Foliage gleaners such as warblers and vireos need their long, thin beaks to pluck an insect from a leaf. Birds that feed from the ground have pointed beaks that can pierce the soil.

Then there are their feathers. Ever notice how birds fluff up during the winter? They do it to trap tiny pockets of air that will hold in body heat and keep out the cold.

And did you know birds’ bones are hollow? That’s to make them light so they can fly.

A Baltimore oriole perches on a branch above an American goldfinch.

Before Jaime got us the feeder, I knew next to nothing about birds. Now I stand in awe of their Creator. He must have had a blast at creation!

Which brings me to another fact about birds: God not only created them, but they belong to Him: “I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine,” God says. “For all the world is mine and everything in it.” (Psalm 50:11, 12).

He knows them intimately and cares for every detail of their lives:

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:26 NLT)

And again: “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.” (Luke 12:6 NLT)

The red-bellied woodpecker likes to peck beneath the bark for insects.

Why all the hype about birds?

Because if God so cares for these feathered creatures, don’t you think He cares for you?

You’re not a nameless face in the sea of humanity. You are a unique creation of God Himself. He knows you intimately and loves you unconditionally.

Listen, again, to the words of His Son, this time to the entire verses:

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” (Matthew 6:25–26 NLT)

And again: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6–7 NIV)

You are worth so much God sent His Son to take the punishment for your sins so you could be in heaven with Him forever. Jesus died for you. That, and the fact that you are “awesomely and wonderfully made” (read Psalm 139) – unique, special, loved, wanted by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Feeling down on yourself? Worried about stuff? Don’t be.

God knows your name. Indeed, He has engraved it on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16). And that’s NOT for the birds!

Thank you, Lord, for the birds that remind me of how very much You love me. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 6:25–27

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

A Blackened Mess

 

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. –Proverbs 28:13 NIV

When I bought a self-cleaning range, I thought I’d have a nice, clean oven without all the work. All I had to do was push a few buttons and let the range do the job.

But after 20 years, the self-cleaning feature stopped working. Which meant if I wanted the burned-on remains of spilled lasagna sauce and an upended pizza gone, I’d have to carve out the time and apply the elbow grease myself.

Who has the time for that?

So I let it go, and my once shiny oven became blacker with each use.

Before Thanksgiving I caved in and called the service department where I bought the range. Unfortunately, there was no simple fix. In fact there was no fix at all for a range that old. But an over-the-counter oven cleaner would work just fine, the storeowner told me.

But he hadn’t seen the burned-on, blackened messes.

So I let it go. I just had too much to do to take the time to clean the oven the old-fashioned way. After the holidays I’d tackle the messy job.

Thankfully all the holiday baking and roasting was done when something happened that put the oven out of commission.

Since my youngest son, David, was coming for Christmas Eve with his girlfriend and her parents, and David’s birthday was the day after Christmas, DH baked David a birthday cake. We wanted it to be a surprise, so before we left for church, he hid the cake in the oven. Two number-3 candles rested atop the plastic cover.

After the church service, David and company arrived home before we did. He didn’t know about the hidden cake when he preheated the oven to make something for our meal.

So while he beat out the flames with a metal spatula, Dean and I opened the windows and patio door, and got the fans going to disperse the smoke.

The cake was fine. The cover was a little melted, but still usable. But the candles! Suffice to say we wouldn’t be using the oven until the mother of all oven messes was cleaned up.

Which DH did last Saturday.

I’m like that oven. With use, I, too, become dirty. My “inner person” that is. Even though I received Jesus as my Savior, even though my sins are forgiven and my guilt washed away. Even though the Holy Spirit resides within me, I still fight my human nature. It doesn’t rule me, understand—but I still have the choice to obey or not to obey God.

And sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I let my emotions take over and say things I shouldn’t. Or allow my resentment to simmer until it boils over into anger. Or I avoid doing something I know I should.

Although we don’t come with a self-cleaning feature, we do have a simple way to remove the sin that blackens our souls—before it becomes a burned-on, hardened mess. It’s called confession.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).

Forgiveness and cleansing—I need these daily. And to get them, all I have to do is ask.

Thank You, Lord, for providing the way for my sins to be forgiven. All I have to do is ask. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 32

Other Scripture to think about:

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord“Though your sins are like scarlet,  they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.. – Ps. 103:12

He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea. – Micah 7:19

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.