Reading the Psalms, one cannot help but see that God wants us to know and remember our history. A good example of this is Psalm 105. The psalmist opens with the exhortation: "Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the people!" and then proceeds to give an account of God's faithfulness to the children of Israel. He ends the Psalm with the words "Praise the Lord!" One of the most important reasons for knowing our history is to generate praise to God. Just as God wanted the Israelites to know their history, He wants us to know ours.
I love history in general, and church history especially. I would like to share some church history resources that I have found useful and enjoyable. This is only a very small offering of what is available. If you have your own favourites, please share them in the comments.
For an overview, I like Justo Gonzales's two volumes, The Story of Christianity. The first volume covers from the death of Christ to the Reformation, and the second volume from the Reformation to current times. Covenant Theological Seminary has a series of lectures which use Gonzalez's books as a text. You can listen for free.
Mark Noll's, Turning Points in Church History is a also a general overview, but focuses on some of the major events in the history of the Church, like the Council of Nicea, the Council at Chalcedon, and the coming of Christianity to the West. Noll also has lots of recommended resources for further study. Footnotes are excellent sources for further reading.
For your listening pleasure, Sermon Audio has a series of Michael Haykin's sermons on Church History. I have made my way through many of them, and hope to hear them all. I had the good fortune to hear Dr. Haykin at a conference a few years ago, and he is very interesting to listen to. Two of his books which focus on the church fathers are Rediscovering the Church Fathers and Patrick of Ireland.
Eusebius: The Church History, translated by Paul Maier. I am reading this at the moment, and really enjoying it. Recently, I read a passage where he explained why we need four gospels. Seems like that's been something we've been asking for a long time. Eusebius is chronologically close to the events of Christ's life, and while he does get some things wrong, he provides a lot of compelling reading. His accounts of the martyrdom of the early saints are especially good, since he's frequently quoting those who actually saw them happen.
Iain Murray is one of my favourite writers. His two volume biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones are two of my favourite books. H has also written biographies of Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards as well. His Evangelicalism Divided and Revival and Revivalism were also excellent reads and look at specific time periods in church history.
If you're looking for something to introduce you to the Puritans, don't miss reading J.I. Packer's A Quest for Godliness. I have heard good things about Meet the Puritans, but have not read it myself.
Speaking of biographies, Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton, the story of Martin Luther is a really good book. One book I would like to acquire is a good biography of John Calvin. Perhaps someone can recommend one in the comments.
Simonetta Carr has church history books for children that are illustrated beautifully. Buy them for your children and grandchildren and read them yourself. She also recently wrote an excellent biography of Renee of France, which I was fortunate enough to review.
As I said, this is just a very small sampling. If history is your pleasure, then there is a wide variety of church history out there to read. Church reminds us of God's faithfulness in the history of redemption. It's encouraging and humbling. And it's just plain good reading!