My greatest resource as a Christian is my Bible. It's the greatest tangible resource any Christian has. This summer I purchased an NIV study Bible, and it's by far one of the best purchases I have EVER made. The translation itself is my personal favorite but it's all the stuff past the Bible itself that I love. There are 4 different indexes that are incredible. It may sound silly but let me explain.
First there's an index of all the people and places and such, which, along with maps and timelines in the front of the Bible, help you understand the historical context of every character and chapter. Certainly, the Bible is just as relevant today as it was when it was written. That being said, understanding the context helps to clarify the ideas, expose important details, and help us understand how profound Jesus' teachings were. For me, it helps take the Bible from a collection of really important stories and teaching to something I can compare to my life. You will never truly understand the Bible unless you understand how, where, and under what circumstances all the stories happened. You're only getting a small part of the Bible if you read it without the context.
The next index has a list of every place certain key words occur. If you're wanting to know everywhere the word "peace" occurs all you have to do is flip to the back of the book.
Then, there's an index similar to the previous that has a short excerpt for each appearance of a word. This is convenient if you want to read each appearance of a word without the verses before and after it.
Finally, my favorite index outlines each key concept of the Bible. Under specific topics you can read how they are defined and explained in the Bible. For example, under perseverance there is the definition "remaining firm in out fairth" followed by points a)Chapters with perseverance as a theme, B) God perseverance us in our faith, C)We must persevere ourselves in our faith. Under A, B, and C there are multiple sub points with textual references for each point. Under C, for example, you'll find "the command to persevere" with 3 references, "the command to use spiritual armor" with 2 references, "the warning not to turn away from God" with 4 references, and "the possibility of rejecting the faith" with 4 references.
My NIV Study Bible is published by Zondervan Bible, which has tons of Bibles with different translations and themes (life application, one year, study bibles, etc). My version has historical and comprehensive introductions to each book, 75 maps and charts, over 20,000 notes to explain each verse and concept, and notes to reference where to find more information on characters and places. I can't even begin to explain the difference between reading "this is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me" in a purse size Bible and then having my NIV study Bible which explains at the bottom of the page "my body The broken bread as a symbol of Christ's body given for sinners (see Luke 22:19) in remembrance of me As, the Feast of Passover was a commemorative meal (see Exodus 12:14), so also the Lord's Supper is a memorial supper, recalling and portraying Christ's death for sinners." What a difference this makes! It allows me to transition from reading the Bible to understanding and learning the Bible. Believe me, there's a big difference.
My Bible was listed for $40 but I got it for $12 with free shipping on Amazon. However, if you can't find that good of a deal, just remember that a Bible is definitely one of the best investments you can make.What's your favorite style Bible? Have you ever learned a part of the Bible's history or context that surprised you or helped you understand a verse better? Please share!
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
I pray each of you can further develop your knowledge of God's word by learning your Bible and understanding it's teachings. If your not in the market for a new Bible anytime soon, there are countless resources online that can help you understand the context of the Bible and explain individual verses. Challenge yourself to not just read your Bible but fully understand what it's teaching and why.
May God Bless You All,