Lessons from the Ibis – unclean and wasteful

IbisThe Douay-Rheims Translation of the Bible lists the bird Ibis in two places – Leviticus 11:17 and Isaiah 34:11.

In the first instance, it is mentioned as one of the birds that is deemed ceremonially unclean which needs to be avoided (detested)  by God’s chosen people. In the second instance, it is mentioned as one of the birds that inhabits the wasteland. I believe, the Bible is in no way, discriminatory against certain animals or birds and the Ibis deserves no defamation as may seem on literal review, there are metaphorical revelations that needs further scrutiny.

Anything that is ceremonially unclean (and all sin is) must be avoided (detested) by God’s people (you and me).
Anything that will make us dwell on things that will waste our time, must be identified and avoided as well. The adage, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” is true and that is why the Bible counsels us to set our minds on noble things, on things above. (Colossians 3:2; Philippians 4:8)

Point(s) to ponder:

  1. What are the things in our lives that are ceremonially unclean; let us identify them and avoid (detest) them.
  2. What are the things in our lives that drawn us away from things that matter, things of God, and that which makes us waste our time away; let us identify them and act on setting our priorities right.

Colossians 3:2 (NIV)
2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly (wasteful) things.

Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Lessons from the Horse – have understanding

HorseThere are many things that can be learned from the horse. The Bible records eludes to the horse to depict strength (Psalm 33:17; Psalm 147:10), speed (Isaiah 30:16; Jeremiah 4:13), sure-footedness (Isaiah 63:13), fearlessness, fierceness, valiant in war and so on.

The Bible also cautions us NOT to be like the horse apropos understanding or the lack thereof as recorded in Psalm 32:9, which states “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” James 3:3 states”Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.”

Proverbs 4:7 states “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Let us seek understanding, as the Bible requires us to, even if it costs us all we got. But what is understanding? Proverbs 9:10 has the answer. It states the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Let us seek to know the Holy God and aspire to be holy, just as He is. The first requirement in the Bible is for us to be Holy (Leviticus 19:1-2), and to be Holy, we need to know what it means to be Holy, we need to have knowledge of the holy, we need to have understanding, and not be like the horse (or mule) that lacks it.

Psalms 32:9
9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
Proverbs 9:10
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Lessons from the Gazelle – don’t be lazy

GazelleThe Gazelle (more commonly referred to as Roe in the Bible) is an animal mentioned poetically in the book of Song of Solomon, wherein the man or the woman is likened to the gazelle or its alluring beauty (Song of Solomon 2:9 and 7:3). It is also mentioned metaphorically in other portions of the scriptures.

What can we learn from the gazelle?

We must like the gazelle not allow any sleep to our eyes or slumber to our eyelids, but instead deliver ourselves when we are in trapped in trouble, like the gazelle does from a hunter’s hand (Proverbs 6:4-5). This means that when we caught in the clutches of a situation that troubles us, we must not be lazy, but work hard toward rectifying that situation and delivering ourselves, after committing the efforts to God. Of course, God is in control of everything and he is Almighty, and there are times to Be Still and know that He is God, but then there are times, he wants us to work to be free from the bondage that encumbers us.   Let us (not laze but work to deliver ourselves and) lay aside every encumberance (Hebrews 12:1a). Jesus himself said that we must first try to rectify the situation. “Come to terms quickly with your opponent while you are on the way to court, or your opponent may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.” (Matthew 5:25, International Standard Version).

Proverbs 6:4-5 (NASB)
4 Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids;
5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Lessons from the Fox – beware

FoxThe Bible has an interesting saying in the book of Song of Solomon chapter 2 verse 15 which cautions the reader to “Be aware and Beware of foxes,  little foxes, that spoil the vineyard“.

When compared to the large predators such as the lions and the bears, foxes, and more particularly little foxes are not the prime focus of defense for a shepherd boy or a vineyard caretaker. The Bible  in its infallible wisdom, cautions us to not be complacent when it comes to these crafty cunning little foxes, that can ruin the vineyard.

While this was originally written with the intent to ensure the sanctity and preservation of a love relationship in marriage (vineyard), informing the people to be aware of the little things that can affect that relationship, it can also be extrapolated to living a holy life as well.While most of us may not ever willingly and openly have other god’s before us, or murder, or bear false testimony in court or covet, taking these vices seriously  etc … we don’t seem to mind when it comes to our work and families (other god’s) taking more precedence and preeminence over God, or hating (murdering in spite) our fellow neighbors, or lying (false testimony) and comparing our state of being (coveting) to that of our friends, co-workers and neighbors. It is these little sins (foxes), that we should be cautious about as they have the same devastating effects as the larger sins (lions and bears).

Be aware and Beware of foxes (sins), little foxes (little sins) that can spoil the vineyard (holy living).

Song of Solomon 2:15 (King James Version)
15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

Lessons from the Eagle – move out, wait and roost on high

EagleTechnically, the eagle is a bird, not an animal, but logically it falls under the animal kingdom and so as a Bible animal, it finds it part here.

The Bible records in Proverbs 30:18-19 that the way of the eagle in the air, is one of three things that is wonderful.

What are some of the lessons we can learn from the Eagle?

Deuteronomy 32:11 likens the LORD to be like an eagle stirring her nest, fluttering over her young, spreading abroad her wings, taking the young and bearing them on her wings.
Studies on the life of an eagle have shown that when the eagle builds its nest, it first layers it with sharp rocks, thorns, broken branches and other items that are not considered comfortable. On top of this hard uncomfortable layer, it builds a padding with soft material such as fur and feathers from animals and birds that it has killed. When the eaglets (young eagles) are ready to fly, the eagle stirs its nest exposing the hard uncomfortable layer, and flutters on top of its young. This make the eaglets want to leave the comfort of their nests and they usually fall. The eagle at this time swoops down spreading its wings and bears the young on her wings back to the nest. Eventually the eaglets learn to fly.

Isaiah 40:31 promises that those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength and mount up with wings as eagles.
Studies have also shown that eagles pluck their old feathers as they age so that new feathers grow in the place of the old. This helps in renewing the eagle’s strength.

Job 39:27 records that the eagle makes its nest (home) on high.
We don’t find eagle nests on tree tops in our neighborhood because the eagle builds its nest on high for safety.

Point(s) to ponder:

  1. When things don’t go your way and you feel uncomfortable, carefully observe. It may be the LORD (as and eagle) stirring your comfort zone. But you can be assured that He will flutters His wings, spread them around you and bear you on top His wings, carrying you over your situation, should you fall/fail? What a wonderful God we serve.
  2. Are you feeling weak and heavy laden? Waiting on God will help us renew our strength. God tell us in Psalm 46:10 to Be Still (Wait on Him)
  3. Where is our home? Is it on high? Is it in heaven or are we merely working toward a vanishing home on earth?  The Bible says in Psalm 91 that those who make the Most High their habitation are safe and that no harm shall befall them. Those whose home (habitation) is heaven are safe. Jesus said, store up your treasures in heaven which is eternal (where there is no decay). Where is our treasure? Where is our home?

Deutoronomy 32:11-12
11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
12 So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.

Psalm 91: 9-10
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

Lessons for the Donkey – pure and faithful

Balaam's Donkey By RembrandtNumbers 22 in the Bible, records a fascinating story of an apostate and greedy man named Balaam that was summoned by Balak, the king of Moab, to ensure victory over the Israelites, the children of God. Balaam saddles his donkey and gets going, but the angel of LORD appears to be seen first only by the donkey, that refuses to proceed. This makes Balaam angry who strikes the donkey, not once, not twice but three times. Many preachers have expanded on the characters, Balaam and Balak, the angel of the LORD etc but there is a lot to be learned from, whom I deem is another main character in the story – the donkey.

What can we learn from the donkey?

  1. The donkey was able to see the angel of God.
    (Verse 23 – Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand.)
  2. The donkey could not only speak but also count. Fascinating, isn’t it?
    (Verse 28 Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam.)
  3. The donkey was faithful as a servant.
    (Verse 30 “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted.)
  4. The donkey saved a life.
    (Verses 32 and 33
    32 “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me.
    Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”)

Point(s) to ponder.

  1. Are we able to see the messengers (angels and people) of God or are we so stubbornly resisting God’s will that we are blind to seeing those around us, who are warning us to live Holy and Blameless lives? Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (not only be able to see God’s messengers, but God himself)
  2. We may feel many a times like the donkey, foolish and not very wise, weak and not very strong, yet God was able to open the mouth of the donkey to speak and open his mind to count. When we feel foolish and weak, we can take solace in 1 Corinthians 1:27 that states “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
  3. The final accolade that all those who believe in Jesus and are called to serve must be to receive the following testament from God – “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. The donkey has subserviently catered for his master faithfully, all his life. Are we doing the same?
  4. Are we saving the lives of those around us by sharing with them the glorious and beautiful story of Salvation and preventing them from proceeding in their way to the second death (spiritual death) in hell.

Numbers 22:21-34 (New Living Translation)
So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials.
But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along,
Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road.
Then the angel of the Lord stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls.
When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again.
Then the angel of the Lord moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all.
This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff.
Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam.
“You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!”
“But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted.
Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him.
32 “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me.
Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”
34 Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.”

Lessons from the Caterpillar – unquenchable appetite / metamorphosis

TheVeryHungryCaterpillar Whenever my wife or I read the children’s book, “The very hungry caterpillar” by Eric Carle, to our three year old, Reuben, it always brings a twinkle in his eyes as he responds, saying “no he was still hungry”, to our question – was he (the caterpillar) full?

The Bible mentions caterpillars (the young of locusts) in Psalm 105 with the same unquenchable appetite that led it to devour all things. This was no doubt execution of God’s punishments Pharaoh and the Egyptians, who were oppressing God’s chosen people and were unwilling to let them go to worship God.

From the caterpillar we can learn to have an unquenchable appetite as well. An unquenchable appetite to do God’s will and to please God. Jesus himself said, “my food is to do that will of the God, who sent him and to complete the work”. We must do likewise as well.

Eric Carle’s book, ends with the hungry caterpillar transforming itself into a beautiful butterfly. In science, this is called  metamorphosis. Christians (followers of Jesus) like caterpillars will metamorphose one day as well. Our earthly ephemeral bodies will be transformed into glorious heavenly bodies.

Point(s) to ponder:

  1. Are you/I hungry with a voracious appetite to do God’s will?
  2. Are you/I sure that you will transformed one day to have heavenly bodies and if so are you looking forward to your/mine metamorphosis?

Psalm 105: 34-35
He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillers, and that without number,
And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground.

John 4: 34
34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat (food) is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

1 Corinthians 15:40, 44b,49, 51, 52 and 53
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Lessons from the Bee – impossible made possible

Bee from the Bee MovieWe watched the Bee movie of couple of months ago and the opening line stuck in my mind. The movie begins with “According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway. Because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.”

Many times our human minds negate miraculous events around us because it concludes that such events are impossible. Events that defy human explanation such as healing and cure from a terminal disease, the barren women given birth, the comatose coming alive, the lame walking, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the mute speaking, the captive being set free, those in bondage being released, the dead being raised, and the one miracle that all should experience, which is the miracle of a sinner turning saint when they trust and believe in Jesus, all seem impossible to the human mind.

But the question that God asked Sarah (Abraham’s wife) when he laughed at the promise of her being with child in her nineties is the same question that God is asking today – Is anything too hard for the LORD?

Bees not only fly, but they can dance, because God made them to be able. God has made us in his image (Image Deo) and with Him on our side, we can achieve the impossible as well. Take heart in the fact that there is nothing impossible with God and like the bees, we don’t have to care what humans think is impossible.

Genesis 18:13-14
And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Lessons from the Ant – be wise

AntsRecently, my wife Sangeetha and I were watching the movie, the Ant Bully with Reuben, our three year old son and this piqued his interests to find out more about ants. This led to a barrage of questions, such as “Are ants good?”, “Are they bad?”, “Will they hurt us?”, “Are the black ants good and the red ants bad?”, yada yada yada … As we struggled hard to slake his inquisitive mind, it gave us a perfect opportunity to talk to him, about what the Bible said about ants and we came up with three things.

  1. Ants are hard working creatures. They are not lazy and they plan in advance (Proverbs 6:6-8)
    Even God plans. The Bible says that God has plans for you, to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11); It should therefore not be incredible that one of God’s creations, irrespective of its size, has the same ability to plan for a rainy day in advance; How much more, we the apex of God’s creation should do likewise as well?
  2. Ants are not strong,  yet they know how to protect (scouts and soldier ants) and provide (foragers) food for the colony (Proverbs 30:25)
    Scientists, entomologist and some other religious object to the statement in the Bible that ants are not strong by saying that ants can carry items many times their body size. While this is true, it however does not negate what the Bible says about ants as not being strong creatures. Two ways to look at the infallibility of the Bible is 1. Strength in comparison to other creatures of God. In comparison, ants are not stronger than other creatures (you, the animals, the birds, the fish etc). 2. This should only bring awe in our minds the evokes praise that God in his brilliance created a creature (the ant) that though it is not strong, it can carry loads many times it body size.  What is more important to realize is that, it is not the strong that always win the battle (Eccl 9). David was not as strong as Goliath but the battle belonged to the Lord and David was on the Lord’s side. If you feel you are feeble, look at the ants.
  3. Ants are wise
    As is evident with our observance of ants, entomologists report that ants live a social life and have ranks – queen, soldiers, scouts, foragers, workers etc … The infallible Bible reports that ants have not guide, overseer or ruler and this is true. None of the ranks observed play the role of a guide, overseer or ruler and yet they know how to be orderly. This is known to be because they are known to be effective communicators. They are wise. Did you notice in a colony of ants, there is no King, only a queen. Their ruler (King) is God. Our allegiance to follow the ruler of the universe (God) and communication amongst people (neighbors) must be the same as well.

Point(s) to ponder:

  • Go to the ant; consider her ways, and be wise:

Proverbs 6:6-8
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Proverbs 30:25
The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;

Caged Lion Apologetics – The Bible needs no defense

The following is an excerpt from “Is the Bible truly God’s Word?” published at http://www.gotquestions.org

Throughout time, skeptics have regarded the Bible as mythological, but archeology has established it as historical. Opponents have attacked its teaching as primitive and outdated, but its moral and legal concepts and teachings have had a positive influence on societies and cultures throughout the world. It continues to be attacked by science, psychology, and political movements, and yet it remains just as true and relevant today as it was when it was first written. It is a book that has transformed countless lives and cultures throughout the last 2000 years. No matter how its opponents try to attack, destroy, or discredit it, the Bible remains just as strong, just as true, and just as relevant after the attacks as it was before. The accuracy which has been preserved despite every attempt to corrupt, attack, or destroy it, is clear testimony to the fact that the Bible is truly God’s Word and is supernaturally protected by Him. It should not surprise us that no matter how the Bible is attacked, it always comes out unchanged and unscathed.

The Bible indeed is indestructible. Jesus himself said, Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away (Mark 13:31).
The Bible needs no defense. As Charles Spurgeon once said that the idea of having to defend the Bible is akin to the idea of people trying to defend a caged lion from a group of men who had come out with sticks to attack it. He then concluded by saying, “Many suggestions are made and much advice is offered. This weapon is to be recommended, and the other. Pardon me if I offer a quiet suggestion. Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself. Why, they are gone! He no sooner goes forth in his strength than his assailants flee. The way to meet infidelity is to spread the Bible. The answer to every objection against the Bible is the Bible.”