One of the essentials for any serious Christian is a good study Bible. What I mean by a study Bible is one that is not just made to give you a quick devotional thought to make you feel good for the day. Instead, a study Bible gives you tools, facts, and information about the history, theology, and overall scope of the Bible.
Howard Hendricks said in 1980 that the greatest sin of the church in America was her failure to "think." We like to feel good, but we often shy away from the disciplines of the mind, including struggling to make ourselves think like biblical Christians. Good study materials help us to learn to love God with our minds.
Today, there are tons of study Bibles and devotional Bibles from which to choose. If you are ever looking for a good one, I highly recommend the following.
For more than ten years I have primarily used two study Bibles: the MacArthur Study Bible and the Ryrie Study Bible.
John MacArthur, of Grace to You ministries, is well-known and respected for his serious approach to the Bible. His ministry's byline is "Unleashing God's Truth, One Verse at a Time." I appreciate MacArthur's integrity with God's Word. He carefully attempts to teach you what the Bible is actually saying - not just what has come down through a particular tradition, theological bent, or bias. That does not always make him popular, but it does keep him faithful. I have used his study Bible since I was in seminary almost 20 years ago.
Charles Ryrie was a theology professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. Known for their biblical integrity, DTS and their professors take seriously the teaching of the Scriptures. Years ago, Charles Ryrie compiled an excellent study Bible with more than 10,000 notes. Through the years it has sold more than 2 million copies.
Last year both of my study Bibles wore out! Oh grief! They both split wide open, so I am in the process of replacing them with new models.
Though I use a variety of other Bibles for reading and meditation (like the Life Application Bible), I heartily recommend both the MacArthur Study Bible and the Ryrie Study Bible for serious Bible study.
That is food for thought.