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User Archives: Nicki Koziarz

  • I Just Unfriended My Friend

    Posted on April 7, 2014 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "My child, don't lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul." Proverbs 3:21-22a (NLT)

    "Women are ridiculous," I said to my husband as I crawled into bed, tears dripping. He gave me an agreeable stare, since he had no words to console my aching heart.

    I'd just learned a friend lied to me. It was about something senseless, which just made it worse. As the hours ticked by, I wrestled through troubling thoughts.

    Why would she lie about THAT?

    Were we ever really friends?

    The combination of hurt and middle-of-the-night thinking was toxic, forming a very self-centered attitude in me. I decided I no longer had room in my life to deal with someone who had lied to me. So in my heart, I just unfriended this friend.

    I have other people I can be friends with, I thought as I drifted off to sleep.

    The next morning I realized how my emotions had distorted my perceptions. It concerned me how quickly I was willing to write off this friend, since we had been through a lot together. And I really did value our relationship.

    So I pondered the emotions swirling in my heart.

    In our cyber culture today, it's easy to sit behind computer screens and smartphones while we reject the reality of many things, including friendships.

    My profile on Facebook says I have 900 "friends." Social media convinces me I have hundreds of people in my corner. But in reality, I don't have 900 friends I could call in the midst of a crisis or even go meet for a cup of coffee.

    And that "unfriend" button is mighty tempting when someone hurts me. But the truth is, ending a relationship is much more complex than the way social media convinces me it can happen — as easily as clicking an icon.

    Social media is a relational tool, but it's not a relational reality.

    More than ever, I need to see my friendships through the lens of reality, and this verse helps me do this: "My child, don't lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul," (Proverbs 3:21-22a).

    God has given us two trustworthy filters to help us see things as what they really are: common sense and discernment.

    In this situation with my friend, common sense, reminded me: You don't really have 900 friends, but you do have one or two people you can really count on. And you need to cultivate those relationships through good times and bad.

    When I wanted to reject our relationship because I was hurt, discernment said: Your friend is human. At the core of her heart she cares about you and didn't mean to hurt you.

    We will always be susceptible to flawed perceptions in our friendships. But when we hang on to the realities God offers us through common sense and discernment I believe we will be much wiser with our perceptions.

    Using God's Word as my filter, rather than my emotions, allowed me to work through the hurtful issue with my friend. That experience made me a more compassionate friend and it strengthened our friendship, so that when I mess up (and I'm sure I will), hopefully she'll forgive me.

    God, we are so grateful for Your gifts of common sense and discernment. Give us the grace to use these filters when things get foggy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is there a friendship God might want to restore because one or both of you had a flawed perception about what was happening? Maybe today you could reach out to that person and begin the process of healing.

    Friendships thrive when we cultivate them. Invite a friend to meet you for some meaningful connecting time, this week or next.

    Power Verses:
    1 Corinthians 13:12, "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" (MSG)

    1 John 3:2, "But friends, that's exactly who we are: children of God. And that's only the beginning. Who knows how we'll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we'll see him — and in seeing him, become like him." (MSG)

    © 2014 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs

  • Bringing Hope

    Posted on December 10, 2013 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!" Isaiah 52:7 (NLT)

    I stood in a field with two Kenyan pastors, resting after we'd traveled long distances.

    For five days we'd gone from hut to hut sharing the life-changing truth of Jesus. We prayed, listened to others, and I cried tears of disbelief over the devastating poverty.

    In our short time together these pastors taught me new definitions of boldness, courage, and passion for others to know the Lord. They would often walk 30 miles just to have the opportunity to share about Jesus with one family. Sometimes I barely even want to say hello to my 30-feet-away-neighbor who desperately needs God.

    Yes, these men were living examples of Isaiah 52:7, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!" (NLT)

    Biblical commentaries tell us the messenger in this passage was bringing good news to the Jews who had been enslaved for a long time. The messenger could be seen as he ran on the distant hills toward the people who'd been in captivity. He came with a message of great hope and joy to tell them they were free! Free from bondage, free from despair.

    There is another message this herald was bringing to all people, including you, me, my friends in Africa, and the whole world: the good news of the coming Messiah, Jesus. That good news is about His birth and His death and resurrection. It gives us the hope that came to earth as a baby, died as a man, and rose as our Savior to offer us eternal life. It's the same news the two men trekked all around the dusty Kenyan land to share.

    For days after I returned home the passion of these pastors consumed my thoughts. And brought to life the call I have to share the Word of God—not just with people in other countries—but with those around me.

    I learned so much from my Kenyan friends. I may not walk hundreds of miles to take the good news to others, but I can drive across town to minister joy to the homeless. I can cross the street to speak with my neighbor about how Jesus can set us free from the captivity of anxiety. And I can share the peace people are looking for.

    As weeks, months, and now even years have passed since my trip to Kenya, the memory of the pastors walking mile after mile to share about the Lord stays with me. And it continues to spur me on to be intentional to go out of my way to herald the good news talked about in Isaiah 52:7.

    To whom can you bring this good news?

    Dear Lord, life is hard, but You are good. Please ignite within me a passion to share the good news of Your peace and salvation with those around me. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Christmas is a great time to reach out to those around you. Make a list of people in your neighborhood and/or community that you will talk to about Jesus this week.

    What are some ways you can share the good news? Here are some ideas: Conversation over coffee or at a Christmas party, handwritten notes in a card, Bible verses on Facebook or Twitter.

    Power Verses:
    Luke 2:10-11, "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'” (NIV)

    © 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Isaiah, Hope

  • Give What You Need

    Posted on October 18, 2013 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38 (NIV 1984)

    Last week we were out of milk, so I headed to the store with my party of five.

    Even though we were in a time crunch, I wanted to make the most of our trip and pick up a few other things. Our family divided up—my husband went to the row of toilet paper, our oldest daughter walked off to get bread, our middle daughter headed out for fruit, and the youngest one, Kennedy Grace, trekked to the milk fridge with me.

    Everyone quickly got what they needed and met back at the register—except my husband. At the self-checkout with my three girls, I scanned our items thinking Kris would be there any second. But he wasn't. As the line behind me quickly grew long and impatient, I wondered if I should cancel my order and step out of line.

    But time was short and we were already running late. So in this unnerving moment, I instructed my youngest daughter to run and get the toilet paper from her daddy. She took off, found my husband, and secured the rolls under her arm. But, on her way back to the self-checkout, a sparkly cereal display distracted her.

    In a calm, yet firm voice, I made sure my daughter heard me. "Kennedy Grace, come here right now please."

    Now, she figured the fastest way to get that toilet paper to me was to slide it down the aisle. Without hesitation, she whooshed the package right to me.

    The people standing behind me thought my daughter's idea was quite amusing. Everyone except one woman.

    As Kennedy Grace giggled, jumped and bounced her way to the register, I knew this wasn't the time or place to have a teachable moment, so I just muttered quietly for her to calm down.

    That one woman, feeling it was a good time to teach my daughter a lesson, said to me, "Well, isn't she something?"

    I didn't want to get into a hot confrontational mess, so I ignored her and bagged my items.

    But then she asked Kennedy Grace, "Why are you acting up so much?"

    Kennedy replied, "I'm just tired."

    And then the woman responded with a statement no stressed-out-momma needs to hear, "Well maybe your mom should put you to bed earlier."

    What did she just say? Unh-huh. I gulped and took a deep breath, ready to blurt out something sassy.

    But in the midst of this chaos, in the midst of this tension, I felt the presence of God hold me back with this thought, give her what you need most.

    Say what, God? I need to give this woman a piece of my mind, is what my soul screamed.

    But it was true. I need a lot of grace these days. Grace. Grace. Grace.

    So, I said nothing. I extended grace. I smiled, grabbed Kennedy's hand and walked out of the grocery store, challenged by the thought of Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

    I make a lot of mistakes. I forget about important things. And I too have judged stressed-out mommas in the grocery store with misbehaving children. But Scripture tells us that when we give to others what we need, something very freeing happens: We receive what we need too.

    When we offer emotional generosity to others, we create the atmosphere for God to do something powerful in us and through us. I don't always want to give others what I need. My initial reaction is often to give others what I think they deserve.

    A quick comeback.
    A nasty look.
    An unforgiving heart.

    But none of these things have ever brought me anything I needed.

    As I continue to live this verse in Luke out, I'm focusing on other's needs and reacting based on them, not myself.

    But next time we need milk, I'm going to the grocery store, alone.

    Jesus, help me give to others the things I need. Make me emotionally generous and able to bless in the midst of a conflicting mess. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write down three things your soul needs. Is it joy? Hope? Love? Friendship?

    Ask God for the opportunity to give it away and see what happens.

    Power Verse:
    Philippians 1:27, "Whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke

  • Habits of a Woman Who Doesn't Give Up

    Posted on October 7, 2013 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." Colossians 3:23 (NLT)

    For years I've dreamed of writing a book. Not to see my name on a cover or personal benefit. Rather, I want others to see God's faithfulness. Most days I'm motivated to press on, but other days it's difficult to maintain my "oomph."

    Another rejection letter hits hard. My toes get stomped on by a hurtful comment on my blog. Or defeat attacks, making me want to quit.

    But I believe this is a God-calling. These are words He has entrusted to me. A book He's asked me to write to tell others about His goodness. And so I try to push these negatives off. Colossians 3:23 inspires me to faithfully plug away another day: "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."

    Maybe you can relate? For every step you take to fulfill your calling, something knocks you back three feet. Might I encourage you, as one who has been there—is currently there—to keep at it?

    Here are five habits I've discovered which characterize a woman who doesn't give up:

    1. She gets up each morning and follows through with her commitments, despite how she feels.

    Her feet are firmly positioned in the day's tasks. While quitting may seem like an option, she refuses to become someone others or God can't count on. Her heart understands that she must be found faithful in small steps to be trusted with big steps. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much ..." (Luke 16:10 NIV)

    2. She approaches the Word of God with reverence.

    She opens God's Word and believes each day He has a personal message for her. She listens to sermons and teachings. Instead of automatically thinking of the friend who needs to hear that message, she knows there's something there for her. "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right." (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

    3. She longs for the grace of refinement rather than the grace of relief.

    She doesn't have a personal agenda to fulfill when she faces refinement. In fact, she longs for the grace of refinement, rather than the grace of relief, because she trusts how God will use this season of growth. She accepts the perspective godly people offer her in difficult situations. And she embraces the process of becoming better through her mistakes. "Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life." (NLT)

    4. She chooses to invest in the world with joy.

    Though life may turn on her, she chooses not to reciprocate. Instead, she strives to be emotionally generous towards others by investing in them with joy. As a result, when darkness threatens to loom over her she can easily chase it away by giving joy. "A joyful heart is good medicine." (Proverbs 17:22a ESV)

    5. She has a spirit of unbreakable determination.

    Though she may feel a little [or a lot] bent many days, she never lets the bending break her perseverance toward the things God has assigned her. In the midst of rejection, she thrives by standing firm on this verse, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

    Though I don't have all these down quite yet, I'm working on them. And each day I can see progress ... in my perseverance, hope, and manuscript.

    What about you? What has God called you to do? Start by adopting one habit today and commit your work to the Lord.

    Lord, thank You for filling me with purpose, faith and determination. Help me continue to do the work You've given me. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you given up on a calling God has given you? Why?

    What habit can you choose to begin today and what steps will you take to begin working for the Lord?

    Power Verses:
    Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might . . . ." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Colossians

  • Peacemakers

    Posted on March 27, 2013 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

    An eight-year-old boy named William once wrote his pastor a letter. "Dear Pastor, I know God wants us to live in peace with everybody, but He never met my sister. Sincerely, William."

    I bet you and I could write similar letters. There's always someone who seems to get under our skin, isn't there? In a world filled with irritating people and problem makers, being able to bring peace in the midst of it all can feel impossible.

    Because we are born into a world of sin, we don't always have automatic peacemaking reactions. One of our responses may be to engage our defense mechanisms and retaliate when provoked. Or we may turn inward and shut down, not seeking to work things out. This is why parents and schoolteachers struggle to train children to resolve their issues with each other peaceably.

    While I am no longer a little girl flustered by the annoying boy pulling my pigtails on the playground, I still find myself not responding well when irritated or aggravated by someone. It's hard to want to bring peace to situations with people I don't like.

    God, however, modeled the right way to seek peace. When we offended God with our disobedience, He took the initiative to reconcile a relationship with us through His Son's death on the cross. Through Jesus' sacrifice and salvation, I'm no longer subject to my defensive reactions or to shutting down. Instead, I have access to His peace, which makes being a peacemaker possible.

    Recently, while going through some conflicts with people, I read Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers ..."

    When I first read this I thought, "If I will just memorize this verse, boom ... I will be a peacemaker." So I did. Big surprise ... I wasn't a peacemaker the next time conflict arose.

    I recognized that I needed to have a deeper understanding of what it meant to be a peacemaker, so I dug into the scripture.

    If we look back to the original text, we see the word for peace here means harmony, security and rest.

    These words that define peace remind me of the things Jesus brings into our lives. Because we follow Him, He gives us the ability to make peace. When we do, He promises we "will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9). We can be a representation of the peace He gives.

    So when Jesus said we are "blessed" when we bring peace, it is because being a peacemaker allows us to represent the depth of who He is as His children.

    Some people will go to great lengths to prove themselves right. Pride and arrogance convince them that laying aside differences is a sign of weakness. But if we can catch God's vision of what it looks like to be a peacemaker—to bring harmony, security and rest to a difficult situation—it will allow us to feel secure and at rest in the midst of conflict. We can stand confident as children of God.

    As we let go of petty stuff, we are peacemakers. When we are the first to say, "I'm sorry," we give peace. When we talk calmly, rather than yelling, we bring peace to the situation. By learning to give peace the way we receive peace from Jesus, His peace flows through our lives.

    Being a peacemaker is challenging and may not come naturally. But may we be reminded today that in every conflict we have the capability to bring resolutions of peace. We can bring harmony, security and rest because Jesus' death and resurrection gave that to us.

    Dear Lord, You are the ultimate peacemaker. Help me keep my eyes on You in difficult circumstances. And to bring peace to conflict with others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unglued and accompanying Unglued Devotional by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    How would being a peacemaker and having peaceful reactions change your relationships?

    Pick three ways you can react peaceably today. Here are some examples: Changing your tone of voice. Forgiving. Being humble. Talking a situation through. Not being defensive. Choosing kind words. Believing the best, rather than assuming the worse. Not interrupting, or taking sides.

    Power Verses:
    1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." (NIV)

    Romans 8:16, "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Matthew, Peace

  • When You Miss God

    Posted on February 12, 2013 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Loziarz

    "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." James 4:8 (ESV)

    It's 3:38 a.m. I stare at the clock and something inside me whispers, "You should get up." I toss, turn, and wrestle with my sleep-deprived thoughts for a few minutes before I finally climb out of bed.

    Downstairs, I turn on the coffee pot and sit down in the white chair. Opening my journal, these words pour out of my parched soul: "God, I miss You."

    Life has been moving at a warp speed lately. Work has been busy for both my husband and me, our three girls' lives are full, and someone always needs something.

    Truth is, I would pay a lot of money for 28 hours in a day.

    But mostly, in this stretched season of life, I'm experiencing how "it" happens ... how people move far from God.

    It's not always intentional:

    The kids are sick ... so church is missed.
    Carpool has to start earlier the next morning ... leaving no time for quiet prayer.
    Bodies need exercise ... reading the Bible gets pushed aside.
    Meals must be prepared ... so worship becomes secondary.
    Reports and projects have to be finished ... you get the idea.

    The list goes on and on of what can keep us from the closeness of God.

    I understand these struggles all too well. And I'm finding there is a great danger in these stretched times of life.

    We can miss being with God, but we also can miss the movement God is doing in our lives. Missing God {either way} is tragic and threatening to our souls that long to thrive with God.

    Recognizing how much I've missed God, I'm taking some time for reflection of this struggle. I'm burdened but also hopeful in the words He is breathing during these soul-stretching moments.

    Maybe you too feel that tug in your heart, pulling you back to Him? I share these three things we can do to move closer to the heart of God, because maybe, like me, you're just as fearful of unintentionally moving too far from God ... of missing Him as much as I am.

    1. Find our God-space.

    Even if it means it's 3:38 a.m. When life feels busy, stretched and chaotic I can stay open to the Spirit's prompting on my heart to create God-space.

    Obviously 3:38 a.m. won't always work for me, so I do need to be intentional about scheduling time with God. Finding the moments of white space where we can fully be with Him is important.

    May we find our God-space ... everywhere, knowing He is always near.

    "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8 ESV)

    2. Experience the awe of God.

    The colors of the sky on the drive into the office ... experience it. The sun warming our skin on a chilly day ... experience it. Giggles from children, the way someone we love smiles, the praise of God's people ... experience it.

    May these moments remind us what it's like to be fully alive and connected to Something much bigger than ourselves.

    "... stand in awe of God." (Ecclesiastes 5:7b NIV 1984)

    3. Have ears that listen {always}.

    The prompting in your heart to slow down, to breathe in the moment ... listen to it. A nudge on your soul to say no when you really want to say yes ... listen to it [or vice-versa].

    May we not want to just dream about the promises God has for our life, but want to live them by listening to His voice, always.

    "And after the fire came a gentle whisper." (1 Kings 19:12 NIV 1984)

    There is always an opportunity in the midst of our busy lives to be aware of God. As we find Him, experience Him, and listen for Him, our intentional steps will always lead us closer to His presence.

    Lord, please help me to be intentional with my steps towards You. I can't always control the things around me, but I know with Your guidance I can still draw close to You when life feels so stretched. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

    For more encouragement to make space for God, "Like" our Facebook page.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Which do you struggle with the most: Finding your God-space? Experiencing the awe of God? Or having ears that listen?

    What would you have to change to spend more time with God?

    Power Verses:
    James 4:8, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." (ESV)

    Ecclesiastes 5:7b, "... stand in awe of God." (NIV 1984)

    1 Kings 19:12, "And after the fire came a gentle whisper." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James

  • Found Hope

    Posted on November 27, 2012 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4 (NASB)

    We were out of options. The day the Sherriff's car pulled into our driveway, I knew what was coming. After a series of unfortunate events, things had gone from bad to worse to hopeless.

    Her friendly, official, sheriff smile did nothing to relieve the emotional discomfort of this dreadful moment. The neighbors peeked through their blinds to see what was happening.

    As she handed me the papers, I took them with tears in my eyes.

    Looking at the baby in my arms and toddler peeking out from behind me, this kind woman genuinely said, "I'm sorry."

    "Thank you," I whispered, as I slowly closed the door.

    I sat down on our stairs and read through the official documents. Elaborate lawyer terms, forceful sounding laws I didn't understand, and words bolded in dark ink conveyed the dreadful news; "You must vacate the premises within thirty days."

    Foreclosure.

    It was unwanted and unavoidable. It felt shameful and embarrassing. And the foreclosure of our home was an aching process of letting go.

    The carefully painted mustard-yellow walls: I would miss them so much. How would I survive without the daily afternoon play dates with my neighbor and her children? And what about all those hot dog dinners my husband and I ate to save pennies to buy this sweet home?

    So much was about to be taken from us. Just like that.

    I didn't understand why God would allow us to walk this humbling road. We had trusted Him, why hadn't He provided?

    Any hope I had left in God faded fast. It wasn't something I could muster back up on my own. No, I needed others to fill the gap for me.

    In scripture Paul wrote, "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4 NASB)

    I learned during this devastating season, when our hearts become grounds of broken dreams, we may need to turn to the hope others have found.

    The Bible holds deep historical roots of hope waiting for us to uncover.

    We can find hope because ...

    Abraham and Sarah found hope by believing while it seemed impossible for them to get pregnant, it was possible for God. (Genesis 15, 17-18)

    We can find hope because ...

    Ruth and Naomi found hope by moving their lives forward after losing their family. (Ruth 3)

    We can find hope because ...

    Mary and Martha found hope when they saw Jesus could do anything, including raising their brother from the dead. (John 11)

    As I closed the door to our home for the last time, I accepted this place of brokenness. But I also made a choice to find hope no matter what.

    I found hope through the eyes of wonder my daughters had as they explored our new rental house. I found hope when my mom helped me unpack our boxes and organize toys. I found hope when my husband's heart drew closer to mine through this difficult experience.

    Hope is at the core of who we are as followers of Jesus. As we allow hope to flow into us, it will flow through us even in the most difficult circumstances.

    If you feel hopeless in this season of your life, will you look back at those who had hope in Scripture to give you courage to have hope for your future? Hope, it heals our broken dreams.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the hope You give us to heal the broken places in our lives. May we have the strength to find hope in all the places that feel hopeless today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    If you are feeling hopeless, reach out to someone and ask her to share a time where God has given hope.

    What is an area in your life you are seeking hope from God? Leave a comment today and let's share our hope struggles.

    Power Verses:
    1 Peter 1:3, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (NIV)

    Romans 5:5, "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (NIV 1984)

    © 2012 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with John, Romans, Genesis, Nicki Koziarz, Ruth

  • Gossip

    Posted on October 9, 2012 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14 (NIV 1984)

    We hadn't seen each other in a few weeks so I was excited to catch up on my friend's life. Arriving at the restaurant we hugged, took our seats, and ordered some sweet tea. Immediately, we started talking about what had been going on in our lives and dug into a discussion about the previous month's events.

    Just a few minutes into our catch-up session, a person's name {who I didn't care for} came up. My friend told me a story that made me dislike this person even more. I then told my friend a story about this same person that made her dislike them more too.

    And so our conversation went ...

    When I left the restaurant, there was a sick feeling inside me. My thoughts wandered through our conversation and I felt deeply convicted it'd been nothing but idle talk.

    The crazy thing was, in the midst of the conversation, I didn't even realize what was happening. I thought I was just catching up with an old friend. But the reality is, I was gossiping.

    I wish I could tell you this eye-opening moment changed me and I never spoke badly of someone again. But I am a woman who consistently finds herself in need of God's grace, mercy and forgiveness.

    Today's key verse, Psalm 19:14, has been helpful for me to remember how God desires my heart and words to be filled with things that honor Him.

    Scripture is teaching me so much about my words. I'm learning I am accountable to God for them (Matt. 12:36). I see by guarding my words, I can keep myself from a lot of problems (Prov. 21:23). And I'm understanding how I have the ability to speak life or death through the words I use (Prov. 18:21).

    As I've been allowing these Truths to shape my character, I've begun to understand how my slip-ups (sin) move me further away from God. One of the greatest deceptions of sin is that we often don't realize what we've done until it's too late.

    But thankfully God is always willing to forgive us and empower us to become stronger in Him.

    So how should we handle conversations like these?

    Preventing gossip is one of the greatest ways to not get caught up in it. Some days I have to consciously say to myself, "I don't want to dishonor anyone with my words today." I've asked God to make me aware of conversations that don't bring honor. "A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly." (Prov. 12:23 NIV 1984)

    Another way we can handle gossip-centered conversations is by ignoring them. Just because we've heard the latest juicy scoop doesn't mean we have to continue to spread it. "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret." (Prov. 11:13 NIV)

    Lastly, confronting the friend who we're gossiping about is important. If we have an issue with someone, we should go directly to that person. It takes more courage to confront someone than it does to ignore him or her, or talk about them behind their back. If something's bothering us, we should deal with it with the right person. "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over." (Matt. 18:15 NIV)

    I'm still working through this. I felt horrible for how my conversation went that day at the restaurant. But, I'm challenged to prevent, ignore or confront conversations like these. I want my words and my heart to be pleasing to God.

    Dear Lord, as I continue to work out my word-struggles with You, thank You for Your grace, mercy and forgiveness. Please help me to keep these Truths close to my soul so I can better represent You with my words each day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Visit Nicki's blog today for 10 ways to speak life to someone today.

    Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

    30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you have a friend you easily gossip with? Why not share this devotion with her today and commit to hold each other accountable to prevent, ignore or confront?

    Why do you think gossip is such a struggle? Leave a comment today and let's discuss this.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 18:21, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm, Proverbs, Matthew, Gossip

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