Tag Archives: birds

He Restores my Soul

When our daughter was pregnant, I kept noticing pregnant women. They were in all the places I frequented. When I imagined pictures in cloud formations, there were babies, prams, fluffy toys and more pregnant women. I think the Lord has made the brain with a mechanism for focusing our attention on what is relevant at the time.

We are planning to go on holiday for five weeks to escape some of the winter’s cold. We leave on Wednesday. Now it seems like God is talking to me about rest and relaxation. The verse for yesterday was Psalm 23:1. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet water.” (NIV)

That is such a beautiful picture of my Shepherd’s provision. He supplies food, a comfortable place to lie down, peace by quiet, thirst-quenching water for the restoration of my soul.

I paged back in my journal to the beginning. My first entry on 15 December – only about six months ago – was about Psalm 104.

The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
    the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,
    and plants for people to cultivate—
    bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
    oil to make their faces shine,
    and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests;
    the stork has its home in the junipers.
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
    the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons,
    and the sun knows when to go down.

These verses also speak to me about holidays. We are going away in our motorhome, staying in caravan parks, first at Drakensville, then Scottburgh, then Karridene. From our camping chairs we love seeing the mountains, the trees, and especially the birds. We try to hang a bird-feeder near our camp when we can. At some of the campsites we’ve seen wooly-necked storks and the opportunity of seeing a dassie, or hyrax, is possible. Even the moon, to mark the seasons in a significant part of our holidays. If we have a view over the sea we can sometimes watch a full moon rise and I love watching sunrises and sunsets.

If God can bring to my attention relaxing images when I am about to go on holiday, He can also bring verses of help in time of need, or encouragement when I am down, or faith or strength when I most need them. Truly, the Word of God is alive, meeting my needs and restoring my soul.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord, that You are my Shepherd and provide everything that I need. Please lead me to a place of rest and quiet and restore my soul. Amen.

Repentance and Migration

This post is inspired by the second chapter of The Birds Our Teachers by John Stott.

Repentance and faith go together. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 (selected) NIV)

Peter, in his first sermon, says the same thing, “Repent, then, and turn to God…” (Acts 3:19a NIV)

The theme of returning to the Lord runs through the Old Testament. Jeremiah says, “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right, no-one repents of his wickedness saying ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle. Even the stork in the sky [and other birds] observe the time of their migration but my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 8:6-7)

Repentance then, is turning away from doing my own thing. While I was contemplating this, I considered what God’s rights were in my life. I have given Him my life, therefore it is not my own.

God has the right to: i) my love and devotion; ii) train me for service using whatever means He chooses; iii) my money and worldly possessions; iv) my time. When I sin by denying Him His rights, I need to copy the migrating birds returning to their breeding grounds, and return to my God.

Image by Ted Erski from Pixabay

I also have rights. I have the right to become a child of God. (John 1:12)

God has many more rights than I have mentioned. Please add any that come to mind in the comments.

My Prayer

Father God, It is hard to consider wickedness as pursuing my own way. I do it all the time. Please forgive me and help me to return to Your way each time I drift. Amen.

The Day of the Birds

On Wednesdays, the TC Robertson Nature Reserve runs a tea garden to raise funds.

Three eats and bottomless tea/coffee

There is also a book table where secondhand books can be bought at a tempting price. I must have been having a bird day because what attracted me was a book by John Stott called The Birds, Our Teachers and a beautiful photographic magazine of birds of South Africa.

I hadn’t known that John Stott was an avid bird-watcher. The first chapter of his book is on Matthew 6:26. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet, your heavenly Father feeds them.” (ESV)

In other words, watch birds. Learn from them. According to John Stott, there are three common misunderstandings about this verse.

First, Jesus was not prohibiting forethought and planning – only worry. In fact, we are told to look at the ant which makes provision for the hard times of winter.

Secondly, Jesus did not mean that God’s children were guaranteed protection from accidents – only that nothing can harm us without our heavenly Father’s knowledge and permission.

Thirdly, Jesus did not mean that we can sit back and leave God to do it all. Sure, God feeds the birds, but not like we feed our pets, providing food in their bowls every day. Jesus knew very well that birds feed themselves. God provides the wherewithal for them to feed themselves, but they have to forage for their food.

I found these thoughts very helpful.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord that You created an orderly world. Thank You for the variety of birds, flowers, animals and people that You have made. How great are Your works. May I ever be mindful of them and learn from them. Amen.

The Good News

We’ve moved to Karridene which is only a railway bridge from the beach.

In setting up camp, I also set up my bird feeder. It usually takes the birds a couple of days to find out that there is a source of free food. One bird has to come across it by accident and then communicate by tweet or actions the good news.

This hasn’t happened yet so we have a source of bird food dangling uselessly outside our campsite.

This is a picture of the world today. God has made available abundant blessings like forgiveness, eternal life, peace, power and the opportunity to become children of God, but most people just go about their daily lives unaware of the free gift available.

The Bible says “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved… And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him and how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (Romans 10 vs 13 – 14 selected)

It behoves us, who know the Truth to communicate the good news by our words and actions.

My Prayer

Lord, please give me the compassion for others that You have. Please guide me in telling others of Your great love. Please bring somebody across my path today that I can tell about You. Amen.

Hadedas and Hoopoes

Hadedas and Hoopoes in the Rain

Wednesday was miserable, cold and rainy in Gqeberha. From the dining room window we saw cold birds. The hadedas sat hunched like buzzards. The hoopoes were intermittently sheltering under the hedge to get out of the rain. What a blessing to have shelter when it rains.

God wants to be our shelter in times of trouble. The Bible says “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:4 NIV) It sounds so cozy, like being tucked under a down duvet in winter.

However, God will not impose His protection and shelter on us against our will. Jesus said of Jerusalem,  Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Matthew 23:37 NIV) God created us with free will and He will always respect it. He offers protection, shelter and comfort but it’s up to us to accept it.

My Prayer

Thank You Lord for Your sheltering hand over me. Please keep me from stubborn self-reliance and pride. May I rest in Your comforting embrace like a little child on her father’s lap.

The Birds and the Bees

Our dining room table is near the window that overlooks the bird feeder. While we eat breakfast, we enjoy the birds visiting our garden to eat fruit, bread and seeds.

Black Collared Barbets are frequent visitors

Every morning I put out bread and apples or oranges cut in half in the fruit feeder. The bread feeder hangs beneath it. It is like a cage which can just accommodate two slices of bread. As the sparrows and weavers eat the bread, crumbs drop onto the ground so clumsier birds like doves cluster under the feeder to forage for bread crumbs.

When I go out to replace the fruit every morning, a buzz of up to ten bees greets me. They think I put fruit out for them. My purpose is to feed sparrows, weavers and mid-sized birds like barbets, starlings and occasional go-away-birds. However, doves also benefit and so do bees.

This illustrates to me that all our actions have knock-on consequences. “The Butterfly Effect” is a metaphor to demonstrate that little insignificant events can lead to significant results over time. Recently both my husband and I have had feedback about something we did or said at least ten years ago, that we have forgotten about but had an impact on other people that they still remember.

Adam and Eve made a decision to go their own way instead of God’s way and the whole of humanity was contaminated by sin. The Bible says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV)

The things we do and say have consequences that we might never have imagined. They will affect people we might not even know. The things we do matter. The things we say matter.

My Prayer

Lord, I sometimes speak without thinking and act on the spur of the moment. Please teach me to guard my tongue and measure my steps. I want to commit my ways to You so You can direct my paths. Every day. Amen.

The Birds and the Bees

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

This is the verse that spoke to me today. Then I saw a black collared barbet eating from a half orange on the birdfeeder. He was taking big bites, seeming to enjoy himself. I looked down and saw a thrush. I haven’t seen any around for a couple of months. He was pecking in recently watered soil looking for insects.

Black collared barbet eating apple earlier this year when apples were in season.

It occurred to me that God was feeding them both. He was filling their mouths with what they each individually needed. I thought of what I need today – stamina, wisdom, peace. God does not provide the same spiritual nourishment to all His children like a chicken farmer feeding chickens. He knows our individual needs and provides accordingly. Our job is to merely open our mouths wide and allow Him to fill us. Quite often our needs overlap. I am sure many others besides me need peace. His promise is to all of us.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV)

Likewise, oranges sustain other creatures beside barbets. Bees buzz constantly around the bird feeder, taking tiny sips of the juice. When we were at the game reserve recently, we saw piles of oranges which had been put out for the wild animals. The monkeys helped themselves from the trees.

My Prayer

My Father, You know exactly what I need today. Please breathe Your Spirit on me and fill my mouth as You have promised with Your gifts, physical, spiritual, emotional and relational. I open my mouth wide. Amen.

Fruit Salad

I have two bird feeders in my garden, placed where we can watch birds while we are eating breakfast. One is a nifty cage that holds exactly one slice of bread and the other, a wooden pole with spikes and a platform for fruit.

Every morning I take out a slice of bread and check whether I need to replace the apple. Yesterday I saw there was no bread and no fruit for the birds. I had only one apple left so I gave the birds half and I ate the rest.

This morning, much to my surprise, this is what I saw. My apple is the green one on the left.

There was another whole apple, bits of apple, a halved plum, a grenadilla and two lychees. It was a bird fruit salad. It will be a long time before the birds are finished with all that bounty.

I could almost hear the Lord say, “I will provide.” Now that my husband and I are on pension, I do sometimes worry about money. Will we be able to maintain our 20-year-old motorhome? Will be still be able to go on holiday?

The bird fruit salad was a good reminder to me that God has infinite resources. When I entrusted my life to Christ, I trusted Him to provide for me. His provision is not miserly, but overflowing, generous, prodigal. There is no reason to think that, just because we are no longer working, God has ceased to be our Provider.

I suspect my granddaughters were involved in spreading a feast for the birds. Of course, the birds don’t know that, any more than we know how God will provide. But He will.

Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt.6:25-26.)

This post is part of JusJoJan. Thanks to Linda Hill for running this challenge.