But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
- 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
- Proverbs 16:24
“My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
- Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump
“When I was a child, well, younger anyway, I searched the heart-shaped box and picked out all the candies that I liked best. All the nougats, the long skinny ones, went first. Then the mounded ones with the little swirl on top disappeared. After a nimble-fingered meal, I was on a sugar high, sated by chocolate, and disgusted with myself. I didn’t know how to savor my pleasure.
“The Word of God often got treated the same way. I picked out favorite verses and gobbled them, one right after the other, until my mind was saturated. Perhaps I had done a time-consuming Bible study, but I’d filled up on ‘nougats.’ I never got into the ‘second layer’ of deeper riches in God’s Candy Box.
“Learning to nibble the Bible is a luxurious experience, well-deserving of a comfortable easy chair. Studying word by word gives delight experienced in no other way. No longer am I compelled to grab whole chapters. Now, each verse or sentence fascinates me.
“After choosing a verse and asking God to reveal something special for me today, I read aloud. A dictionary waits beside my chair. I look up each word that, in all honesty, I can’t define. By seeing the various meanings of the words and thinking about how they fit into God’s sentence, I dive into new understandings. My mind nibbles the day’s delicacies reveling in the fact that the Bible is God’s love letter to me. It’s abundantly better than chocolate.
“Such study is simple, but not superficial. Do you value the rich taste of God’s Word as much as your favorite dessert?”
- Patricia A. J. Allen, from a devotion entitled ‘God’s Candy Box’ in the devotional book, God’s Abundance, edited by Kathy Collard Miller
Thinking of the box of candy makes me hungry. Valentine’s day approaches. Will we get something? Who knows? My wife will want a taste, to remember the experience of youthful indiscretions, but then she is over it and I am stuck eating the rest of the box. I haven’t worked off the last pound or two since Christmas. It is so hard to work off weight in the winter.
But if you come to Pennsylvania, do not focus solely on Hershey, PA for chocolate. Hershey is a great tourist town. Yes, the street lights look like Hershey kisses and the streets of Hershey smell of chocolate, but not as much as they used to due to environmental rules. No, do your research and look for chocolatiers near where you are staying. There will probably be a place that makes high quality chocolates in the area, especially in SW PA. The one closest to our home has a giant chocolate castle (behind glass) so that the children can drool, mesmerized, while you figure out what you need to get. Okay, that might have worked with kids 50 years ago, but attention spans keep getting shorter and the store is a minefield of temptations. Another factory / store, a little further away, has a ‘kingdom’ in a room, seen through the top half of a Dutch door – smaller pieces, but a lot of shaped figures – my favorite was the four or five foot long turtle (hundreds of pounds of chocolate, I would guess).
But thinking of God’s Candy Box, it seems from the above quoted excerpt of the devotion, that you can figure out, to some extent, what you are going to get in a box of chocolates. So, maybe Forrest’s mother was a little wrong on that one, but in following the devotion author’s concept of Bible study, you might not get ‘a thought for the day’ either. I have done this type of Bible study recently. In the Psalms and Proverbs, it is easy to go sentence by sentence, but in the history section and in some of the prophets, going paragraph by paragraph can lead to very little meat, in the way of a ‘thought for the day.’
It reminds me of the pulpit joke that I have heard a few times, just not recently: A man is despondent. He goes to a lonely motel room. He gets a thought. Before he does something that there is no turning back from, he opens the bedside table and pulls out the Bible. He had heard that people found what they were looking for in the Bible by blindly pointing to a verse. (This has happened in real life, but not in this joke.) He opened the Bible without looking, closed his eyes, and pointed to Matthew 17:5, “So Judas … went away and hanged himself.” No, this verse did not help. He decided to try again. This time he pointed to Luke 10:37, “… Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”
The origin of the first verse fragment is obvious. The second verse fragment is in response to the end of the parable about the Good Samaritan. The religious leader could not even mention the word ‘Samaritan’. He answered Jesus’ question as to who had been a ‘neighbor’ by saying that the one that showed kindness was the neighbor. The religious leader’s response was the first half of Luke 10:37, with Jesus’ response being to do likewise. This is a great example of taking something out of context.
Maybe the reason that you don’t hear that old joke is that people are sensitive toward depression these days, but it illustrates the problems of reading one sentence at a time. In concept, it is a great way to read the Bible, and it will take several years to do so, but sticking to a single sentence may be a stretch, at times. When I read some of the history sections in that type of study, I read titled topics for the translation that I am reading. In some of the Old Testament books, this could be a few chapters, followed by three titles in the next chapter. In that way, Forrest Gump’s often told quote is part of the excitement. You never know what you are going to get.
Regardless of your mechanics, the devotion author’s point is found in the first Scripture, that all Scripture is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” Some of what we learn is not to make ‘that’ mistake, while other things are ‘ah, that’s a path I should follow.’ The Bible is not shy in telling of the problems that Godly people had, and many ungodly people. Yet, there are many examples of the proper way to address problems that arise in our lives.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.