Dr. Joe Temple


We are talking about bird watching, and in this lesson, we are going to talk about the stork. We might establish the fact that there is nothing unusual about the stork in Palestine. There were two kinds—black and white. They stand about three feet high. They had long red legs and when they flew, they stretched their legs out behind them. They made a sight in the sky that attracted the attention of anyone who was about in their migrating season. That is why there is something in the Word of God about them. Men observed the stork. They noticed their habits, their customs, and they had something to say about them.

Some things they noticed about the stork, particularly, was the unusual strength of their wings for long distance flying and the wisdom they had in riding the thermal waves. They could sail to great heights simply by getting on one of these thermal waves and letting the heat raise them up to some great height of flying. These are a few simple facts that naturalists have learned about storks in Palestine.

Turn in your Bibles with me to Psalm 104, and notice what the Psalmist had to say when he was out enjoying the great outdoors. In this Psalm, he is talking about the waters and God's care and direction of the water.

May I stop here and say that when you sit on the seashore and see the waves coming in, have you ever stopped to think that they are coming in in the order that God arranged, and they can go no further than God commands? That is what it means in verse 9:

Psalm 104

9Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

Then, in verse 10, there are the springs in the valley. Have you ever stood by a little rippling brook that ran from a spring and realized that it was there by the order of God—that God was responsible for it? Verse 10:

Psalm 104

10He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.
11They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.
12By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.

He is not just making a simple observation that birds go to the little brooks to get their drinks of water and then mount up into the branches and sing; he is recognizing that God is responsible for it all. Look at verse 13:

Psalm 104

13He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.
14He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
15And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

Then he passes on to the trees.

Psalm 104

16The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;

Seek the High Places

Isn't that interesting that God is the One Who planted the cedars of Lebanon? Notice the reason in verse 17:

Psalm 104

17Where the birds make their nests: [notice] as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

You have to understand that David is making a comparison when he writes these words. He speaks of the high trees, and he says, “The birds make their nests in the trees.” Then among all the trees, he saw the fir tree that towered up above all the rest of them, and way up in the top of the fir tree, he saw a stork sitting on her nest. He said, “The stork makes her nest in the fir trees.”

That is the first lesson that I want to draw from this fact. The stork is a bird that seeks the high places, and as you observe the stork seeking the high places, you should be reminded that that is your privilege and your obligation as a believer, but I wonder how many of us do?

Let's turn to Colossians, chapter 3, verse 1:

Colossians 3

1If ye then be risen with Christ, [this is not the if of doubt; this is the if of assumption, so that you could read, since ye have been risen] seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

“Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Keep a marker here, because we want to come back in a minute, but turn over to the Ephesian letter, and notice chapter 1, verse 3:

Ephesians 1

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Of course, you recognize, if you have the King James text before you, that the word places is in italics. That means that it is not in the original text, so it could better be read:

Ephesians 1

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ:

As someone has put it: “…in the heavenly relationship…”

Go back to Colossians, chapter 3. “If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.” What are those things? Every blessing that we have in Christ, seek them. How are you going to do that? You might tell yourself that you are seeking those things which are above, but are you really? Look at verse 2:

Colossians 3

2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

If you are really going to seek those things which are above, you are going to have to set your affections on things above. The construction of this verse indicates that it is your responsibility.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, I wish I could love the Lord more; I wish I could be more spiritual.”? Or perhaps they have known someone who was a spiritual giant, if we may use that phrase, and they say, “I wish I could be as spiritual as he is.”

You realize, I trust, that there are not comparative spiritual levels in Christian experience. You are either spiritual or you are not spiritual. You are either controlled by the Spirit of God or you are not controlled by the Spirit of God. It is your obligation to be controlled, and if you set your affections on things above, you will find yourself seeking those blessings that are yours in Christ. It all depends on how you set your directional compass.

On a recent flight from Abilene, the pilot was checking directions and he would set the compass in the direction he ought to go. You would think that all he needed to do was set it one time, but that wasn't right. He had to continually change it so that we would be going in the right direction. That is what God is saying here: “Set your compass toward things which are above.”

You might take a little self examination and ask yourself a question: What do I think about? What do I occupy my mind with? I don't know how you feel about television. I enjoy it. I know of a preacher who calls it the devil's little blue light . I don't like to talk that way because we are on several television stations, and I wouldn't like people to get rid of their television sets; there is too great an opportunity for blessings through them. But have you ever timed yourself and your children in regard to television—how much time you spend with television? That in itself can be something that you handle—the hours that you watch television, perhaps; but the problem I find when I spend very much time watching television is not the problem with the time spent, but the problem with the time spent thinking later on what I have seen or some little melody that keeps running through my mind.

I don't know if these people that sell snacks sell any more because of the little jingles they have in connection with snacks, but I will tell you one thing: They impress it upon you. I find jingles going through my mind over and over and over again, and I suddenly wake up to the realization of what am I occupying my mind with.

I am trying to be practical here. The stork seeks the highest place to live. What about you? Do you set your affection on things above, or on things of the earth? You have the answer to that.

Go back to Ephesians, chapter 1, for one last thought about seeking those things which are above. In the latter part of Ephesians, chapter 1, you realize that the Apostle Paul is praying that God might enable these people to realize what their heritage is in Christ. He says in verse 18:

Ephesians 1

18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know [know by experience] what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

He is saying, “The eyes of your understanding might be enlightened, that you might know by experience what is the hope of His calling and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance is in the saints.”

Be careful how you read that. We are not reading that He wants us to understand what our inheritance is and what our glory is, but what we are to Christ, what Christ wants to see in His Church.

Paul goes on in this Ephesian letter, you remember, and says that the Church someday will be the epitome of glory throughout all ages. Men will look at the Church, celestial beings will look at the Church, and will say, “Look at what God hath wrought.” How are we measuring up? Let's put it very simply and say, where are you making your nest?

Turn with me to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 8, and notice another truth about the stork. In this chapter, God is talking about Israel's disregard of Him and His will for them and His plan for them. In verse 6, Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 8

6I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.
7[Notice carefully] Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.

To be a good bird watcher, you need to know the migratory habits of the birds, and Jeremiah did. He mentions several of them in the verse here. He mentions the stork and the turtle, which is really the turtledove, and the crane and the swallow. Did you notice what he said? “Every one of those,” and he mentions the stork first, “knows their appointed time.” The next statement explains what he means by that: “The stork knows when to migrate. The stork knows when to move from one climate to another. The stork knows God's plan.” Notice the lesson that he draws from it: “But my people know not the judgment of the Lord.”

Are you getting what Jeremiah is saying? Out in the clear, one day he saw the storks flying over, the cranes, the swallows, the turtledove. As he looked at the storks flying up there, he said, “You know, that stork has more discernment than God's people. That stork knows God's will, but my people do not know God's will.”

Some people might say, “Oh, well, the stork does what he does by instinct.” Jeremiah didn't think so. He believed that the stork knew God's order and God's plan. I wonder how many of us are like the stork. Do we know the will of God? Perhaps a more important question is, are we even interested in knowing the will of God?

Turn with me to Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 17, and notice several exhortations. Notice verse 14:

Ephesians 5

14Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

To walk circumspectly means to walk looking around, keeping your eyes open. Redeeming the time means to buy up the opportunity. That is why you walk circumspectly. You walk so that you can see the opportunities, and you buy them up quickly because the days are evil and there is not a great deal of time for us to exercise our privilege in Christ. Because that is true, in verse 17:

Ephesians 5

17Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Seek to Know God's Will

Back to the stork. Jeremiah said that the stork understands the will of God. He knows when to move, and he knows where to go. Now, you be as wise as the stork. You understand what God's will is. You know when to move. You know where to go. The thing that I want you to get from this passage of Scripture is that you do not need to be unwise. You can understand what the will of the Lord is. Now, the monumental question is always “how.” Will you turn, please, to Romans, chapter 12. Notice verse 1:

Romans 12

1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Notice that the first thing that you, as a believer, are obligated to do is to present your body to the Lord. Everybody doesn't agree with my teaching about this portion of the Word, but I teach it anyway. I believe that it is true. I don't believe that this is talking about a life commitment. I don't think this is talking about rededication. I don't think it is talking about consecration. I think it is talking about literally presenting your body to the Lord.

I did not know this truth when I first came to know the Lord. I was saved and there was a time when I consecrated my life to the Lord. There was a time when I said, “Lord, I want You to have all of me.” I went through all of the various phases people go through who are sincere in heart and want God's best for them. One day the Lord spoke to me about this passage of Scripture right here. I presented my body, literally, to the Lord, and when I made this presentation of my body to the Lord, I said, “Lord, my body is Yours. You can do with it what You will.”

I am not going to take the time to tell you what He did with my body, but I would never have agreed to if I had not already presented it to Him. That is probably why He spoke to me about it. But because I had presented my body, when these things came up, I had to say, “Lord, I have presented my body to You. It is Yours. You can do with it what You will any time You want to do it,” and He did.

After this reasonable or spiritual service is performed, you have another obligation and that is to not be conformed to the world. When you are conformed to the world, you are shaped to the world. The best illustration of conformation [notice I am not saying confirmation , but conformation ) that I know anything about is paper mache objects. You know how you take a vase or any object, and you put layer after layer after layer of paper on the object. You conform the paper to the thing you are working with, and then you break the thing and you have a paper mache object. How is it made? By conforming it to the original object.

Most of us, without realizing it are conformed to the world. You understand the world is described in John's epistle as a system, not as the beautiful trees, flowers and what have you. It is a system, and most of us are conformed.

The first thing that we are obligated to do after we present our bodies to the Lord is to break the mold. Dare to be different. Refuse to conform, no matter what it costs you. “Be ye transformed.” If you stopped right there, you would have a big problem on your hands because you can't transform yourself. But notice: “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The renewing of your mind is the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. When you refuse to conform, when you are transformed, then you will be able to see what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, not proving it in the sense of trying to find out what it is, but evidence in your life that you are walking in the center of God's will. The stork knew what God's will was. Isn't it sad that we can't? If you want to know, follow this procedure and you will know, for God will not withhold His direction. “For him who wants to know the will of God will know the teaching whether it be of God.”

Turn to the book of Zechariah, chapter 5. In this chapter, there is a prophecy that we do not have time to get into, and I am only asking you to turn to this portion of the Word for the illustration of something about the stork. In this chapter, there was a vision given to Zechariah concerning commercialism in the end time. That is all that I am going to say about that, but look at verse 5:

Zechariah 5

5Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.
6And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.
7And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.
8And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.
9Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.

Visions in the Scripture are usually made up of material with which men are familiar. Zechariah had studied birds and one thing that impressed him about the stork was their wingspan and their strength of their wings. They were known to carry great numbers of smaller birds on their wings during migratory season. Little birds that couldn't travel the great distances that they had to travel would get on the wings of the stork, and we are told by bird watchers of that country that oftentimes it was difficult to determine what the object was that was flying through the air because it looked like it had lumps on it; but when he got closer, there were a lot of birds on the wings of the stork.

Bear One Another's Burdens

That is another lesson that I want us to get. We should be like the stork and seek the high places in the fir trees. We should be like the stork and seek and know God's will, and we should be like the stork, strong enough to bear one another's burdens.

It has been quoted here before our message: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me: The Lord is my strength, my salvation…” All of this is true, but have you ever wondered why God wanted you to be strong and why God gave you this strength? Turn with me to the book of Romans, chapter 15, and notice why God gives you strength. Sometimes we feel that God gives us strength simply to do combat with the devil. Sometimes we feel that God gives us strength just to live victorious lives, but look at verse 1:

Romans 15

1We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

I want you to let that truth sink in. Have you ever stopped to think how far short most of us as believers fall? We are strong. We are spiritual. We flex our spiritual muscles and think about how strong we are, and then we become irritated and impatient and disgusted with those who are weaker, with those who have not advanced spiritually as far as we have. As the stork bears those little birds on her wings, as the stork bears a heavy ephah weighted with lead, you and I ought to be ready to bear the burdens of the weak.

Loyalty and Love

There is one last thing I want to share with you about the stork, and it doesn't come from a scriptural reference. It comes from the Hebrew word that is translated stork . I don't believe the Holy Spirit makes any mistakes in the words that He uses in the Word of God. The Hebrew word for stork is chaciydah . The Hebrew word chaciydah is a word that describes loyalty and love.

I wonder how the stork came to be called by this word. I think the answer lies in its rather unique habits. For example, the stork is the only bird, as far as naturalists know, that shows devotion to its family throughout its entire life. Many birds, when the little birds grow to a certain age, are pushed out of the nest and they have to fend for themselves, but the stork maintains that family relationship. The interesting things about storks, according to what naturalists tell us, is that the young storks, even after they have left the nest and have fended for themselves for some time, come back and take care of the old parents. You see why God would select a word such as this to describe the stork.

What does that remind you of? I would like to close our meditation by asking you to turn to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 31, and be reminded once again of God's interest, God's concern, God's love for those who are His own. Notice verse 3:

Jeremiah 31

3The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
4Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
5Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
6For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God.

God's Second Chance

As I have tried to emphasize to you, every passage of Scripture has one interpretation, then as many applications as is consistent with the Word of God. I may be repetitious in saying that, but I don't want you to forget it. We recognize that as far as the interpretation is, this is a promise that God is going to restore the nation of Israel, but now that we have had the interpretation, let's look at the application and think of this as God's second chance to so many folk because He loves you. Look at it again:

Jeremiah 31

3The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn [continually drawn is the thrust of the verse] thee.

Then in the next verse, He is going to build; He is going to adorn; He is going to bless. Why? Because His love never exhausts itself.

How many times have you known individuals who have made shipwrecks of their lives because of their disobedience and everyone has given them up? Even their loved ones have very little hope of them ever being anything for God again, but God doesn't. He keeps on drawing with cords of love, and He has plans for them that still can be fulfilled.

Turn now, to Isaiah, chapter 49, and notice an illustration which God gives with which we are all familiar. Notice verse 15:

Isaiah 49

15Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

What is God saying? You can usually count on mothers to remember their children. Mothers remember and care long after fathers are disgusted and quit. He said, “It is not the usual thing for a mother to forget her nursing child, for a mother to give up her baby. Sometimes it happens, but it is not the usual thing.” Then He said, “…but my God will not forget thee.”


Why is the stork called chaciydah ? Because it never forgets. When the men of God looked to the sky and saw the stork flying by and saw them coming back to their nesting places to take care of aged birds, they were reminded that God never forgets. I am glad that He doesn't.

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