Advent and Marriage: Week 4 —
 OUR PEACE — A Couple’s Bible Study

Advent — preparing our hearts to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas–the coming of Christ into the world. (Read all about it here.
Each Couple’s Bible Study leading up to Christmas is a lesson on the focus of Advent for that week. These teachings will not only help you keep your thoughts, heart, and home centered on Christ during this season, but also will apply to your marriage and family as well. Use them in Couple Connect or in your family Advent time.
The first week of Advent focused on HOPE; the second week on PREPARATION. Last week’s focus was JOY.  And this fourth week (beginning Sunday, December 21st) our focus is PEACE. If you are using an Advent wreath, this week light the candle of PEACE (purple in the traditional wreath).

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” — Luke 2:13-14

PEACE. Jesus was born to bring us peace.

Christ Brings Us Peace

Some thirty years following that night in a lowly stable in Bethlehem, Jesus was nearing the end of His time on earth. In preparing His disciples for His coming death on the cross, He told them:  “‘If you love Me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him'” (John 14:15-21).

Look at the words of love and hope Jesus leaves with His followers–these words which will only be fully understood after His resurrection. He promises His continued presence, eternal life, and His never-ending love.

If that were not enough, Jesus adds one more promise in John 14:25-27: “‘All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'”

Jesus knew what was coming–what they would face. He would soon die on the cross to fulfill His purpose in coming to the earth–to pay the price for our sins and save us from eternal death. But He promised He would not leave them alone. The Father would send the Holy Spirit to teach them all things and remind them of everything Jesus said, and He would bring them peace. And these same promises are for all of us who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (If you have not yet received Him, please read this to learn more about Him.)

Luke 2.14a

What Is This Peace?

The apostle Paul lists in Galatians 5:22 fruit that will be evident when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives. Among them is peace. 

He is not referring to the kind of peace that politicians promise–a stopping of conflict between nations, for there will always be wars. Nor is this the kind of peace psychologists promise–the end of conflict with friends and family members and within ourselves. Jesus said, “I do not give to you as the world gives.” He gives the peace that only He can give. Peace that keeps our hearts from being troubled. Peace that keeps us from being afraid.

The word that Jesus uses for peace in the Greek is eirene. It means “the tranquil state of the soul,” “content with our earthly situation, whatever it may be,” and “fearing nothing.” Like biblical joy in our last teaching, which is so different from the world’s idea of joy, so biblical peace is very different than worldly peace. There is no mention of a lack of conflict. But even in the midst of struggle or conflict, we can have a tranquil soul, contentment, and not be afraid–this is biblical peace.

 

How to Have This Peace

Just how are we able to have this peace no matter what is going on in our lives and marriages? God makes it clear in Isaiah 26:3-4: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” This peace comes through trust in our trustworthy God.

There is a clear connection between our thoughts and our trust. If our minds are centered on our unchanging, reliable God, then we will have the assuring presence of an unshakable trust in our all-powerful God. It is only with this kind of trust we can enter any storm of life with the peace that comes from complete confidence in Him.

Proverbs 23:7 reveals this about our human condition: “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (NASB). Where we place our thoughts determines how we live.

And Paul writes in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Paul tells us that when we think on these things and put them into practice, we will live by them. And this will lead to God’s peace…real peace. The peace that can only come from the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Isaiah 9.6

As Jesus neared the end of that final teaching to His disciples before going to the cross, He left them with another truth. He said: “‘I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’” (John 16:33). Once again, Jesus promises peace. Why? Because He has overcome sin.

There will never be a complete absence of trouble, sorrow, conflict, or pain in our lives or in our marriages. We will have problems in our lives that come from circumstances beyond our control because we live in a sin-stained world. And we will bring problems on ourselves because we are sinners and we sin. But Jesus tells us to “take heart,” for He has overcome sin. So even in the midst of it all, because of what Jesus has done for us, we can still have that perfect peace.

Jesus came to bring us peace. But we all know our hearts are not filled with peace at all times. When we’re troubled about something, or we’ve been hurt, or we’re afraid, how do we experience this peace?

Seeking His Peace Together in Marriage

We turn our hearts and minds back to God. We study His Word and follow His ways–individually and as a couple. We pray on our own and with each other. We follow Paul’s instruction in Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

There it is…peace from praise and prayer to God. If we want our marriages to be full of peace, then we must do this not only as individuals, but also together as husband and wife. (See Couple Connect and How to Design Your Own Couple Connect for a suggestion on a weekly time together as a couple for just this purpose.)

Rejoice together. Take your concerns to the Lord in prayer together. And the peace of God will be with you.

That’s why the angels said: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”

Rejoice in His glory today…and let the peace of Jesus rest upon you.

Enhancing the Advent Celebration

Here are some suggested Scriptures for every day this week, leading up to Christmas Day…

Sunday – Ephesians 2:12-22
Monday – John 7:37-38 and 14:6
Tuesday – Matthew 28:19-20
Wednesday (Christmas Eve) – John 1:1-3, 14; Romans 6:23
On Christmas Eve, we will have one final Advent post, celebrating Christ’s birth.  

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

This song’s lyrics are by the well known American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He wrote it in 1863 during the American Civil War after receiving a letter in November, 1863, that his oldest son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, a lieutenant in the Union Army, had been severely wounded. His wife, Francis, had died a short time earlier in a fire. Filled with pain, he wrote this poem on Christmas Day, 1863. He entitled it “Christmas Day.”

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiear carols play,
and wild and sweet the words repeat
of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
the belfries of all Christendom
had rolled along, the unbroken song
of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,
the world revolved from night to day,
a voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
the cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
the hearth-stones of a continent,
and made forlorn the households born
of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“for hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail,
with peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

You can sense Longfellow’s despair upon hearing Christmas bells, as he writes that “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men”. But the song does not end in despair. It concludes with the bells carrying renewed hope for peace among men. Christmas and the Christ of Christmas brings hope for genuine peace in the midst of national and personal turmoil and pain.

The poem was first published in a children’s magazine, Our Young Folks, in February, 1865. It was not set to music until 1875, when English organist John Baptiste Calkin came across it. This is the most popular version most often heard and sung to this day. However, another arrangement was written by English pianist and composer Jack Gibbons in 2011 and has become popular in recent recordings. Here is a music video of this latest version by Casting Crowns…

May you be blessed in all His wonderful ways,
David

 

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org

Header photo by mike.bendetti via flickr (CC BY-2.0), text added
Candle photo by JockeEkroth via pixabay (CC0), text added

 

For other posts in this Advent series, click here…
Introduction – A Beautiful Celebration
Week 1 – Our Hope
Week 2 – Our Preparation
Week 3 – Our Joy
Week 5 — Our Light Has Come

About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.