Here are a few resources I’ve found incredibly helpful in listening to God and getting to know what living for Him looks like. I’ve given a brief description plus a link to their websites (apart from one link to Amazon for the ‘Jewish Study Bible’) – enjoy!
I love this Bible. It has a brilliant balance of good scholarly thinking and accessibility. Excellent introductions to each book of the Bible, good notes throughout, and some really useful and interesting essays on everything from how the canon was formed to Christian views on bioethics. Every morning I use this for my daily Bible reading. I like to use a Bible without any notes alongside and then have this close by to refer to.
2. The Message
Another great and probably familiar resource. The Message is an interpretation of the Bible in contemporary language. It isn’t a direct translation so you definitely want to read a more accurate version of the Bible alongside, but I find this incredibly helpful for getting a fresh view on some very familiar passages. It was written by Eugene Peterson and came from trying to write particular scriptures in a way that people could readily understand for a group of people at his church. I would recommend this for both new Christians just getting to grips with the Bible and for those who have been around for a while who want some fresh inspiration.
Something I came across whilst at vicar school. This is a study Bible with introductions to each book and comments by passages, but from a Jewish perspective written by Jewish scholars. For obvious reasons it does not include the New Testament! I find it a useful resource for getting a sense of how the Old Testament texts were and are understood by Jewish thinkers rather than just from a Christian perspective.
I used this every morning for quite a while and loved it. This is a collection of contemporary liturgy from missional communities. The main feature is morning prayer for every calendar day. These have prayers, a song, readings from scripture, and (my personal favourite) a reflection on a hero of the faith. These range from ancient saints to contemporary Christians and from the well known to the obscure. There is often a short bio plus some thoughts or an extract from their writings or prayers. Also, every month there is a particular theme and some suggested reading that ties into the daily prayer for that month. Using liturgy in daily time with God is great for finding words you might never find on your own, being part of a community by sharing in common prayers, and establishing a pattern of prayer. This really is a great resource either for daily use or simply to dip into for inspiration as I do now.
There are a range of volumes of ‘God’s Generals’ books by Roberts Liardon – the one pictured was a Christmas present. Essentially they are short biographies of Christian heroes, often from more recent years and people you may know little about. When we read the Bible we see how God has moved incredibly in a whole number of people’s lives, but He hasn’t finished yet. Not long ago I became aware how little I actually knew about people who have been used by God in recent years to do amazing things. I’m talking about a host of people from John Wesley to C.J. Parham and Billy Graham. These books give short and accesible biographies that I personally find challenging and inspiring.
So there you go, 5 books that have hugely blessed me over the years and I hope might be an encouragement for you too. If you’ve already used any of these then I’d love to know what you thought about them. More than that, I’d love to know if there are any resources that you’d add to the list – books (or other media!) that have helped you learn more about God and draw closer to Him.
So why not add to the list or offer your thoughts by leaving a comment?