Bible, Casting our care on Jesus, Christian Writer, Grief

AN ENDURING PRESENCE

A PRESENCE

Image of Monty -a small white hairy dog, with brown and black patches. Monty has a blanker on his head.

When I first started writing this blog, way back in December 2020, I thought that I would try and encourage reader engagement by featuring pictures of our dog. Christmas that year Monty even got a whole post dedicated to his enjoyment of the season. My blog has changed and morphed since, and the dog has long since stopped appearing as a regular feature. But he was always here with me as I wrote. An enduring presence. Until he wasn’t.

Monty was definitely a presence. A Jack Russell Terrier cross with an attitude five times his size, he genuinely ruled the roost. He had his chair, and his schedule, and his opinions, and we learnt to abide by them all. He barked at everyone who came to the door, and had a special vehemence in his reaction towards the postman and the Tesco delivery driver. He would bark at people visiting the neighbours, bark at birds in the garden, bark at nothing in particular. During lockdown he even learnt to bark at the telephone, or during Zoom calls – the word ‘hello’ set him off. When he wasn’t barking, he would be snoring, or moaning, or just breathing heavily. It is quiet without him. Unbearably quiet.

LOSS OF A PRESENCE

So we are in grief, and slowly readjusting to life without the bothersome old dog. He was an enduring presence through some of the hardest moments of our life. Someone for me to talk to when I found myself home alone more often than not. A reason for me to get out of my bed on the days I really didn’t want to. A constant source of laugh aloud moments. We miss him. Even his exasperating traits. And his smell.

So how are we coping? We are being kind to each other, and spending time doing things together, and getting out of the too quiet house, and enjoying our grandson. We are starting to think about planning things to do that having a dog stopped us doing easily. We are looking at photos and videos and laughing at the memories. And shedding tears too.

Image of Monty -a small white hairy dog, with brown and black patches. Monty has a wrapping paper on his head.

Image of Monty -a small white hairy dog, with brown and black patches. Monty is sitting in an armchair, smiling.

ENDURING PRESENCE

For me personally, I have found myself clinging to the One who is the true enduring presence. A scripture verse that I have found myself saying over myself, over and over, particularly when the sense of loss has left me physically and emotionally exhausted is from Exodus 15:2

The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;

And then yesterday this verse popped up on my daily Bible verse app, and it is just what I needed. Psalm 18:2

Image of an outline of a  mountain range in shades of blue, with the text of Psalm 18:2 superimposed

We have had a hard few weeks, and I know we are not alone in that. Covid, the flu, financial concerns, dark days, wet weather. Loss. I have friends who have lost loved ones, other friends suffering life threatening ill-health. All these things take their toll. But what a blessing to know we are not alone through any of it. God is an enduring presence. He never leaves our side (Hebrews 13:5) He walks through the mess with us. He understands, and knows, and can carry our burdens. He collects every tear we shed (Psalm 56:8).

Even the tears cried over a dog.

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


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ADVENT 23: JESUS – I AM

BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS

In John 8 :58, Jesus said something extraordinary which astounded His listeners; ‘Before Abraham was, I Am’. This would have shocked them because He was claiming to have existed before Abraham lived on earth. The Jewish leaders and scholars could make no sense of that, how the man who stood before them could claim to have also been alive before the man who was the great father of their nation. Unless… He was claiming to be more than a man.

Text of John 8 v 58 on a blue background surrounded by Christmas tree decorations

I AM WHO I AM

His wording was no mistake. He did not say ‘Before Abraham was, I was’. He said ‘I AM’.  In fact He had already used the phrase ‘I am’  twice in this discourse, in John 8:24, and John 8:28 (the ‘He’ is not there in the Greek). If they hadn’t got it before I believe they would have heard it for sure the third time. And it angered them so much that they wanted to stone Him. Because His listeners would have known those two words as the title God used of Himself when He talked to Moses from the burning bush, ‘I AM who I AM’ (Exodus 3:14). That is, the One that just exists, the One that is, and always has been, and always will be. The eternal One who is all and holds all in His hands.

THE GREAT I AM

Jesus was claiming deity. He did it again in John 18: 5-6, when the soldiers came to arrest Him in the garden, and either consciously or sub -consciously, they knew the power in His words. When He said, ‘I AM’ (again, the ‘He’ is not there in the Greek), the soldiers fell back to the ground. God in human form allowed Himself to be taken by cruel human hands and led to His death, for our salvation.

Image of a blue sky with white clouds that have taken the shape of a lion and a lamb. The words 'I Am alpha and Omega' in blue text

Be in no doubt, the baby that shepherds ran to find, and kings knelt to worship, was and is the great I AM. The same God of the burning bush, who delivered His people from Egypt and parted the Red Sea, came in the form of a baby to Bethlehem. God the Son was not a lesser version of God the Father. He was, and is, God eternal. ‘I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End’ He declares from heaven (Revelation 1: 11).  This is the One who deserves all our honour, all our praise, and our very lives in worship this Christmas. So, so much more than a baby in a manger.

Text of Revelation 1 v 11 on a blue background surrounded by Christmas tree decorations

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


Christian Writer, christmas, Jesus, Names of Christ, The Word of God

ADVENT 21 : JESUS – BELOVED SON

THIS IS MY BELOVED SON

The Angel Gabriel came to Mary and declared that the child she would conceive by the Holy Spirit would be the ‘Son of the Highest’ (Luke 1: 32).  On two further occasions God Himself speaks confirming Jesus as His Son: at His Baptism (Matthew 3 : 17), and at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17 : 5). On both occasions God declares ‘This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’.

Text of Matthew 3 v 17 against a gold background with Christmas stars.

LOVE AND PRIDE

Can you picture God the Father looking down with His heart bursting with love and pride for His Son? Those of us who are parents can understand that feeling. We can’t wait to tell people how wonderful our kids, or our grandkids are and how proud we are of them. We see beyond their mistakes and imperfections and love them fiercely and unconditionally. This dispels the idea of God as a distant figure. He was completely and utterly besotted with His son, His perfect Son, and totally invested in what Jesus was doing. Isaiah 42 : 1 says of Jesus, this is ‘My Chosen One in whom my soul delights’.

Painting of Jesus coming out of the waters of Baptism, with his arms stretched out to heaven. He is gazing up at a bright light in the form of a dove.

GIVEN THE WORLD

But not only did God the Father love His Son, He loved the world that He sent Him to (John 3: 16). Jesus, the Son, shared the very nature of His Father. He became the expression of the Father’s love for us: love incarnate. As parents we love to give our children what they wish for, especially at Christmas. If we could afford it, we would give our children the world. Funnily enough that was exactly what God the Father gave His Son. ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession’ (Psalm 2 : 7-8). That includes you and me! Because Jesus came willingly and obediently to earth, and humbled Himself to death on the cross, God exalted His Beloved Son to the highest place in heaven and earth. And every knee will bow to His beautiful name (Phil 2 : 8-11).

Text of Luke 1v32 against a gold background with Christmas stars.

Image of front cover of the book The Healing

‘It isn’t the end of the story, though,’ Hywel continued. ‘For the whole time that his son had been away, the father had looked out for him. Every day he would go out and search for him, or stand at the threshold of his property just looking out, watching and hoping for his wayward son to return. He still loved him, and was deeply concerned for him. He desperately wanted him home, despite what he had done. Sitting in his pigsty one day, the boy looked around at his surroundings and realised something – that even the servants in his father’s household lived better than he was living. He was desperately ashamed of what he had done, and wondered if there was any way he could return to his family, even if he could perhaps become a servant. He decided he would return home, and beg his father’s forgiveness, and take his chances. He got himself up out of his self-made pit and headed home.

‘Before he had got anywhere near his old home, he saw a figure come running towards him. Terrified, he thought his father had sent out a guard to beat him off. He fell to his knees sobbing in desperation. But then he realised it was no guard, but his father himself. And he carried no weapon, but instead his face was wreathed with joy. The father ran to his son, grabbed him, stood him to his feet, and then gathered him into his arms and wept on his neck.’

THE HEALING

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


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ADVENT 20: JESUS, ‘SON OF MAN’

SON OF MAN

How did Jesus refer to Himself in the Gospels, more than any other title? According to biblical scholars He refers to Himself as the ‘Son of Man’ 78 times. I haven’t counted! But it is interesting that Jesus chose to associate Himself with mankind in this way, rather than calling Himself the ‘Son of God’. He who created humanity, loved human beings so much that He chose to humble Himself to come to earth to live among men. To experience life as we do and to ultimately die for us. He describes Himself, the Son of Man, as coming not to be served but to be served and to give His life for many (Mark 10:45).

Text of Mark 10:45 against a white background with wrapped Christmas parcels on the left side.

HUMAN CLAIMING DIVINITY

But in Mark’s gospel Jesus also describes the Son of Man as having the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:10) and to be ‘Lord of the Sabbath’ (Mark 2:28), so even as Son of Man He claims divinity. He tells his followers that the Son of Man will suffer and die (Mark 8:31) will rise from the dead (Mark 9:9), will one day return (Mark 13:26) and will sit in judgement with the Father (Mark 8:38).

Photograph of a stone carving of the face of Christ wearing a crown of thorns.

EXALTED CHRIST

This is where we see that Jesus was not just using the title to emphasise His humanity, but also because of a prophecy in Daniel 7 :1-14. Daniel saw an image of the Ancient of Days (God the Father) on His throne (v9). And then someone else is brought into the heavenly throne room – ‘ one like the Son of Man’. And it is to Him that all glory and dominion over the nations of the world are given. A Kingdom that will last forever. This is an image of the exalted Christ, prophesied hundreds of years before Jesus even walked on the earth, and a familiar prophecy to those of Jesus’ time who were awaiting their Messiah. They knew that when Jesus used the term ‘Son of Man’ Jesus was claiming to be the Anointed One.

Daniel’s vision echoes that of John’s in Revelation 5. The Lamb is brought forward as the only one worthy to take the scroll, because He was the one who died and rose again. To Him is given all the glory and honour and praise.

Text of Revelation 5 v 13 against a white background with wrapped Christmas parcels on the left side.

Jesus, the Son of man, came as the servant of humanity, but is also the forever exalted One, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Later, as they lay looking up at the stars through the branches of the trees, listening to the river lapping gently on the shore, and to the horses munching contentedly close by, Philip sighed.

‘Now, this is peace. It’s amazing how the things around us can either make us feel at peace inside, or can steal our peace. Storms without can cause storms within.’

‘It is true,’ Hywel replied. ‘The kind of peace I want more and more is the kind that Jesus had, that He promises can be ours. A peace that stays true despite our circumstances.’

‘The peace that Jesus experienced during that storm; how do you think He came by that?’ Philip was keen to know the answer. Was that a kind of peace available to him, he wondered?

‘Several things, I think. It was a gift from God, obviously, but I believe Jesus accessed it by His own will. He trusted God to protect them. He knew enough about God’s plan for His life to know that it wasn’t His time to die, and also that God had a reason for wanting Him on the other side of the lake. He had a God-designed destiny, and a God-arranged destination, and an appointment with a demon-possessed man needing to be freed. He also knew who He was, and that He had the God-given authority to calm the storm. He chose to believe in those things, and not the evidence to the contrary that the storm seemed to present.’

‘So,’ Philip thought out loud, ‘inner peace comes from faith in God.’

THE HEALING p 94

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


advent, Bible, Christian Writer, christmas, Jesus, Names of Christ, The Word of God, TRUTH

ADVENT 17: JESUS – THE TRUTH

I AM THE TRUTH

Jesus said in John 14: 6, ‘I am the way, the TRUTH and the life’. He said He was the way, and the life, in response to Thomas’ inquiry as to how they could follow Him where He was going. But what did He mean when He said He was the truth?  When Jesus stood before Pilate, He declared Himself the One bearing witness to the truth, and that the only those knowing the truth would hear His voice (John 18 :37-38). Pilate’s reply echoes through history, the cry of a searching humanity, ‘What is truth?’ The irony for Pilate was that truth was standing right before Him in the person of Christ.

Text of John 14 v 6 within a wreath of evergreens and berries

I AM THE REAL THING

The word ‘truth’ here isn’t just the simple opposite of a lie. It means much more. In fact, the closest Greek opposite to it would be ‘illusion’. ‘Truth’ was reality, genuine, the embodiment of moral truth and rightness, the proof of what was true. When Jesus declared He was truth, He was in effect saying, ‘I am reality, everything else you know or believe is an illusion, I am the real thing, genuine, right, certain, the only truth worthy of your complete trust’.

Image of an open bible with the words 'What is truth?' circled and the words I am truth below

KNOWING THE TRUTH

Knowing the truth isn’t just about gaining enough head knowledge to persuade ourselves to believe, knowing the truth is knowing and trusting Jesus. John 8: 32, says, ‘you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’. The context of this is believing in the Word of God, but it applies equally to the One who declared ‘I am truth’. We trust those who are truthful and operate with integrity, but even those we are closest to will sometimes let us down. It is difficult to always be completely truthful and genuine, because we are flawed human beings. But there is one who is perfectly true and genuine, and He can be completely trusted. He is the answer to the world’s search for truth and reality. He is the victorious, glorious One, riding on the white horse, whose name is ‘FAITHFUL AND TRUE’ (Rev 19: 11).

The only true thing in our lives should be the One we trust with all things.

Text of Revelation 19 v 11 within a wreath of evergreens and berries

Image of front cover of the book 'The Pilgrim'

Hywel leaned into Brenin, who stood and let him, just for a moment, before reverting to his more normal skittish state and trotting away. Hywel smiled to himself. He was making progress with the horse at least, little by little gaining his trust. He wondered if it was the same with him and God. As this pilgrimage went on, the things that were said, the people he interacted with, the words he was reading… Little by little, he was learning to trust God more, lean into Him more, accept that He might really care about him. Gracia had said that Brenin would be happier once he learned to submit to kind leadership. What was it she had said? ‘He will be happier and more content for learning to trust another, and in realising that he does not have to be in control. Perhaps the same is true for you?’ If he understood her meaning, she would have been praying for this. For him to trust God enough to give Him the care and control of his life and its direction. He was getting there.

THE PILGRIM pp 210-211

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


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ADVENT 16: JESUS – BREAD OF LIFE

BREAD FROM HEAVEN

In John 6 we have the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. A day later Jesus is being mobbed by a crowd demanding that this ‘magician’ do another miracle for them. They try and spiritualise their request by referring to the manna, or bread from heaven, that God had sent to feed the Israelites in the desert (Exodus 16). Jesus’ reply is blunt; that sort of bread will never satisfy you. They are looking to satisfy their natural desires, but they need to be much more concerned that they have the food that will give them eternal life.

Text of John 6 v 35 on a background of white washed wooden planks, with a row of iced Christmas cookies below.

BREAD OF LIFE

 ‘I am the bread of life,’ He tells them, and if you feed on me you will never hunger again (John 6: 35). What stands before them is much more than a miraculous loaf of bread but the very source of eternal life. He urges them to feed on Him, He is the living bread, sent from heaven to satisfy every need and desire of their hearts (John 6: 48-51). Every time we take the bread at the communion table we are physically sharing in His body broken for us. We remember that the Living Bread was broken so that we could have life in Him (Luke 22:19).

Text of Luke 22 v 19 on a background of white washed wooden planks, with a row of iced Christmas cookies below.

FEED ON HIM

Now, I love bread. It is the hardest thing for me to give up when trying to lose weight! There is nothing so tempting as a fresh loaf of crusty bread, warm from the oven. It looks good and smells wonderful, but if I just set it on the table in front of you and told you to just look and smell, that would be cruel! Bread is to be eaten. The bread of life is the same. He urges us to feed on Him, to have every spiritual and emotional need met (John 6:57). How? Well in the same way as we ingest bread, we need to take Him into ourselves. First, we invite Him to be Lord of our lives, invite Him into our hearts, and accept His gift of eternal life. But then, just as the Israelites needed daily manna, so we need to feast on Him daily, by spending time talking with Him, worshipping Him, and reading and meditating on His word. He is the only thing that can feed our spiritual lives and keep us healthy, strong and growing.

Spend time feasting on Him today.

Photo of a part sliced loaf of crusty bread on a bread board. With the words 'bread of life'.

Image of front cover of the book The Healing

‘Hywel has asked to be released from work duties while he is here in order to spend his time alone in prayer and fasting.’

‘Probably just thankful for a break from me,’ Philip muttered under his breath, but not so quiet that Julian did not hear it.

The abbot smiled kindly. ‘Not that, brother. I can assure you. Hywel has a very special relationship with God, and when he has been on the road and busy in the world outside of abbey walls, he finds the opportunity to take a day or two, and be in close communion with God, a necessity. He will come back to you when he has finished doing what he needs to do with God.’

THE HEALING p123

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


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ADVENT 15: JESUS – LIGHT

YOUR LIGHT HAS COME

In Isaiah 9:2 we read the prophecy that a great Light will come to transform the lives of those who walk in darkness and live in the shadow of death. This is one of my favourite prophecies of Jesus; Matthew quotes it about Him in Matt 4:16.

Isaiah 42:6 tells us that this same Light will bring revelation truth to the Gentiles (nations), and Luke attributes this prophecy to Jesus in Luke 2:32. And then in Isaiah 60:1-3 the cry comes ‘Arise Shine, for your Light has come!’, and the promise that gentiles will come to this Light.

Text of Isaiah 9 v 2 on a royal blue background, with a Christmas candle in the corner.

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

The themes of darkness and light run throughout scripture. Darkness is evil, sin, godlessness, fear, hopelessness, anxiety, despair, oppression, lack of sight, lack of wisdom or direction, and death. In contrast Light signifies goodness, holiness, hope, joy, peace, vision, revelation, life and glory. Jesus came to turn darkness to light. John the Baptist called Him ‘the true light which gives light to every man’ and the light that darkness could not understand or overcome (John 1:4-9). Jesus said of Himself ‘I am the Light of the World, He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life’ (John 8:12)That’s good news! There is no power of darkness that His light cannot dispel.

A large lit candle to the left of the image, against a dark background, with the words 'Light of the World' above

WALK IN THE LIGHT

If we follow closely after Him, then all darkness must bow to His light. We can live in hope, joy, and revelation light, even when darkness is all around us. But it is a choice, Jesus warned His listeners in John 3:19-21 that darkness is powerful, and many still choose darkness over Light. It is still a choice, even to those of us who already belong to Him. To be dragged back into walking/living in darkness, or to choose to stay close to Him and walk in His light (1 John 1:5-7).

 His call to us is, ‘Arise Shine, for my Light has come to you.’

Text of Isaiah 60 v 1 on a royal blue background, with a Christmas candle in the corner.

‘Do you believe that I can really be free of this darkness inside of me?’ Philip sighed. The feelings of despair were not far from the surface again. ‘I have witnessed much suffering, death and cruelty, and I have been the cause of some of it. I have suffered betrayal, and I have betrayed my own beliefs. I have taken out my frustrations on the undeserving, God included. I have done much that I am ashamed of.’

‘As have we all.’

Philip doubted very much that Hywel had, but as he glanced up, he saw a flicker of pain cross the monk’s face.

‘I can assure you,’ Hywel continued, ‘sitting here with you, that as sure as the sun there will set and rise again tomorrow, there is hope that you can walk free from all of it. From darkness, into life-giving light. That is the message of Easter is it not?’ He held Philip’s gaze. ‘The followers of Jesus watched in horror as He was interrogated, tortured, and hung on a cross to die, all by those who were supposedly acting in the name of God. As He hung there on that tree He uttered those extraordinary words: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”[1] It is supposed that He was referring to the soldiers tasked with His execution, but what if that forgiveness was being extended to all who had played a part in His death? To those who had orchestrated and ordered it, those who stood mocking Him as He died, even to His followers who had denied and abandoned Him?’ Hywel paused briefly to let his words settle, watching Philip’s face all the time. He continued, ‘And then, after three days buried in a tomb, the women came to grieve Him and found He had risen. Jesus had passed from death to life, defeating darkness and rising into glorious light. And so, yes, I believe each of us can be free of the power of darkness, because of the resurrection. God offers forgiveness and light to us all.’

THE HEALING pp 56-57


[1] Luke 23:34, NKJV.

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


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ADVENT 14 : JESUS – LAMB OF GOD

LAMB OF GOD

This is how John the Baptist announced Jesus in John 1:29, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ The next day he declared the same, and two of his disciples immediately left him to follow Jesus. John could have said, ‘behold the Messiah’, or ‘behold the Son of God’, but he didn’t make it that obvious. We can’t know for sure, but I wonder if those two disciples understood the description? Something made them follow after Jesus.

Text of  John 1 v29 on a white background, surrounded by pine branches and tree decorations

WITHOUT BLEMISH

For them ‘lamb’ signified sacrifice, they had grown up under a covenant where lambs were routinely offered as sacrifices for the atonement of sin, as laid down in Levitical law. John was describing Jesus as a sacrifice for the whole world’s sin. They would also know of the importance of the ‘lamb without blemish’. Before even the law of sacrifices was established, God had told His people to take and kill a lamb without blemish and paint its blood on the doorposts of their homes, to protect themselves from the Angel of death, at the first Passover ( Exodus 12:3-5 ). The blood of the lamb was their protection and salvation.

photo of a new born lamb lying on a pile of grass with the words 'Lamb of God' above.

ETERNALLY WORSHIPPED

Jesus offered His blood as the price for our redemption, ‘as a lamb without blemish and spot’ (1Peter 1:18-19). He that ‘knew no sin’ (2 Corinthians 5 : 21) sacrificed Himself to make atonement for our sins. His blood was spilt and stained on the uprights and crossbeam of a wooden cross, so that the punishment of death would pass over us. We don’t see this description of Jesus anywhere else in the Gospels, but it is an eternal theme.  In Heaven that is how Jesus appears – as a Lamb that had been slain (Revelation 5 : 6), and it is as the Lamb of God that He is eternally worshipped: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour, and glory and blessing’! (Revelation 5 :12)

Let’s worship along with heaven today!

Text of  Revelation 5 v 12 on a white background, surrounded by pine branches and tree decorations

Image of front cover of the book the Pilgrim

 Here all was simplicity, and as the service progressed, so the simplicity of worship also became evident. There were no written words of liturgy, no formality, no separate area for monks and lay people, male or female, as Hywel was used to. All came together with one purpose, to praise their Creator together. The priest began to recite, and the words were from a psalm. The people in the congregation added their voices. They knew these words by heart, and they were spoken with conviction. One by one voices began to sing along with the responses, until there sounded the most beautiful of symphonies, voices coming together in sweet harmonies, rising and falling together. Their worship filled the space, until it felt as if heaven itself had leant a choir of angels to the realm of humans.

Hywel looked about him in wonder. All around him faces were lifted in adoration, bathed in peace and joy. Some knelt and spread their hands in devotion. One or two lay prostrate on the floor. It was a deeply moving experience and Hywel wished for it not to end. Could it be that God Himself had presenced Himself there, as a response to their praise, as He had in Solomon’s great Temple?[1] Hywel found himself on his knees, overcome by the heavy sense of the Holy in that simple place, among those simple people. He could not even pray, but where he knelt he was aware of tears coursing down his cheeks and falling to the cool stone floor beneath him.

THE PILGRIM p 214


Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


[1] See 2 Chronicles 5:13-14.

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ADVENT 13: JESUS – REDEEMER

REDEEMER

In Isaiah 59:20, God declares ‘The Redeemer will come to Zion’. Many times in the Old Testament God refers to Himself as the Redeemer, but in this instance, He is talking of the One to come. We know this as this verse is quoted in Romans 11:26 and most definitely refers to Jesus. In his prophetic song of praise at the birth of his son, Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, declares that the moment has come for Israel to be redeemed and that their salvation is coming. This is in the person of Jesus (Luke 1:68-69)

Text of Luke 1:68-69 against a background of wood with evergreens and red hearts bordering

BOUGHT BACK

So, what does ‘redeemer’ mean? I looked up the word ‘redeem’ in the dictionary and my favourite definition of the word is this – ‘to gain or regain possession of something with a payment’. It means to buy back something, but I particularly like the bit about regaining a possession. Because that is what God did through Christ. We were made for God, made to be the object of His love and to share in close intimate relationship with Him. Our sin and disobedience separated us from Him; in a sense we were lost to Him. He had to pay to get us back. And what a payment! 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us that it wasn’t with silver and gold, that are precious but corrupt over time, but with His own precious blood that He redeemed us. Our redemption cost Jesus His life.

Text of 1 Peter 1:18-19 against a background of wood with evergreens and red hearts bordering

KINSMAN REDEEMER

 In the Hebrew the term redeemer implies something more than just buying back, it suggests the requirement that it be person of close relationship. Beautifully illustrated in the story of Ruth and Boaz, the kinsman redeemer had a responsibility to take under his care and protection one that was vulnerable through widowhood or abandonment. This wasn’t the act of a stranger, but someone closely related. Jesus chose to redeem us, not as a stranger, but as one who already loved us unconditionally. He took on the role of kinsman redeemer for us so that we can come under His care and protection. Not only are we bought back by Him, but we are brought into His family, to be loved and secure for all eternity.

How precious are we to Him that He was willing to pay so much for our redemption!

A cross on a hill, dark against a dramatic red, yelllow and white sky

Image of front cover of the book The Pilgrim

‘It cost Me this.’ This time it was a whisper and it sounded inside his head. All at once Hywel knew it was no human voice. He opened his eyes and looked up at the depiction of the crucified Christ above him, the hands spread wide, nail-pierced and bleeding. The twisted legs, the spear-wounded side, the thorn-crowned head bowed in agony. It was only a lifeless, silent carving and yet it spoke more than a thousand words could have in that moment. A life surrendered, a death embraced, a punishment borne. For him.

THE PILGRIM p 223

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


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ADVENT 11 : JESUS – IMMANUEL

IMMANUEL

Immanuel means ‘God with us’ and we know that from Matthew 1 :23. The gospel writer, Matthew, quotes from Isaiah 7:14 as he tells the story of Joseph, and his dream encounter with the Angel. Joseph had just been told that the child Mary carried was the Son of God. In this context ‘Immanuel’ is a name, the name given to the child born of a virgin, who would be the Messiah, the Saviour.

Text of Matthew1 v 23, on a background of whitewashed wood, bordered by red and gold Christmas decorations

GOD AS A MAN

God Himself, in the person of His Son, descended into humanity so that He could live among us. We can put from our minds all thoughts of a distant, uninterested God. He was born into poverty, hardship, shame, fear and uncertainty, under Roman oppression. He chose to experience these things, as well as injustice, hatred, misunderstanding, loneliness, physical torture and death. He suffered these willingly, for our salvation, but also so that He could fully understand our pain and suffering (Hebrews 4:15).

SImple painting of Joseph and Mary, cradling the infant Christ, beside a manger. With the word Immanuel below.

OUR COMFORT

He truly made Himself ‘God with man’, and this is our comfort. There is nothing that we can face that He has not experienced Himself. We can never believe that He does not care, because He truly knows how we feel. He also had no problem identifying with the undesirables – from the shepherds, to tax collectors and prostitutes. He came to be with those who needed Him most, God with every man, whatever their status.

OUR BATTLE CRY

But ‘Immanuel’ occurs elsewhere in Isaiah, in chapter 8, verses 8 and 10. Here it is not a name but a cry of trust, from a nation facing humiliation and defeat; it is a yell, ‘Our God is With Us!’. Immanuel is our comfort but also our battle cry. Whatever we face, He, Almighty God, is truly with us. ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5) is His promise.

Is Immanuel both your comfort and your battle cry?

Text of Isaiah 8 v10, on a background of whitewashed wood, bordered by red and gold Christmas decorations

‘Were you afraid on the ship?’

‘Honestly? Yes. Fear in itself is a normal human reaction. You would expect to feel fear every time you entered a battle?’ He glanced over at Philip who nodded in response. ‘I was afraid, but I have learned to do the things God requires me to do, even when I feel fear. He promises to ride the storm with me, every time.’ He continued, ‘I prayed the whole time that God would help me, to not let my fear become greater than the faith I had in Him to keep us safe. My mind was eventually able to find a degree of peace, unlike my stomach.’ He smiled wryly.

THE HEALING p 95

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com