For a straightforward explanation of the superiority of Christ, one only has to read through the book of Hebrews in the Bible.
This important letter was written to help Jewish Christians who were perhaps thinking of returning to the old ways of Judaism.
It shows that because Christ came, additional religious acts are unnecessary for a relationship with God. The Son reflects God's own glory, and everything about Him represents God exactly.
Though we are saved from sin when we believe in Christ, we are given the task of going on and growing in our faith. Through our relationship with Christ, we can develop and mature this relationship as we encounter life's trials and joys.
Our shepherd continuously shows us the unique path of righteousness He walked, and He gives us profound glimpses into the depths of His joy when we keep our personal assurance of God's grace and love.
The words recorded from the apostle Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me," are witness to the fact that Christ loves each one of us, and gave himself for each one of us, personally, no matter what year you or I were born.
Every believer has personal grace, has the same privilege of saying those words that John said in Galatians 2:20. God knows us intimately, and He wants us to know Him.
The distractions that turn us away from God are so numerous. Preoccupations can become false gods, idols that quietly but routinely guide us away from the cross.
The gospel creates joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength, as recorded in Phil. 4:4, and Neh. 8:10. God considers those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to be citizens of heaven. One day Jesus will take us there (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
The way out of despair is to read and study the Bible, because the will and ways of God bring inner peace. Spending time in prayer every day acknowledges God's greatness and who He is. We are to thank Him for what He has done in our life, and bring our concerns to Him, confess our sins, and pray for God's protection over our life.
Scripture shows us that God wants to free us from the traps of this world, including bad habits that can keep us from growing into the people He created us to be.
He wants us to be more like Him, and give us victory in the areas of weakness that get in the way of our personal relationship with Him.
Cultivating joy is a matter of sitting down, grabbing our own attention, and telling ourselves, "Hey, listen up! This is what matters most: I'm forgiven! I have hope! My hope is based on the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus!" A good place to start is to memorize John 3:16, keep it close, and believe it.
Bonnie Donnelly is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Christy Hudson at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.