One of my sweet friends excitedly told me about two girls she met at Target last semester! A few weeks after hearing about God connecting Mia with Jessica and Rachel, I passed Jessica in Liberty’s School of Divinity! I admired Jessica and could not imagine the friendship we now get to embrace daily!
Jessica-Andrea exudes the joy of the Lord. She brings glimpses of Heaven to earth. She goes out of her way to let others know they are seen and known. She loves well, is intentional in reaching out, remembers special details, and gushes encouragement. It has been a privilege to sit with Jessica over coffee and Chick-fil-A this semester. Her relationship with Jesus is the first focus of Jessica’s life. She overflows with Him so well because of the time she lovingly sits at His feet. Psalm 34:5 (NIV) tells us, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
In this new guest blog post, I asked Jessica to answer some questions on our walks with Jesus! Jessica is an example of a woman after God’s own heart. She obediently followed the Lord in studying Women’s Ministry and does minister to the girls around her daily. She is a dear friend to me. I encourage you to grab a cup of coffee or your water bottle as you sit and read this post. There is much wisdom we can all apply!
Let’s hop right in and hear the words Jessica felt led to share with us!
My prayer for you, beautiful, radiant, and chosen daughter of God, as you read this is that the Holy Spirit would fill your heart with peace, your spirit with joy, and your mind with ease. Before we begin, I want to encourage you to grab your Bible or Bible app on your phone and turn with me to Psalm 23!
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me besides quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even when I go through the deepest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff staff-they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.”
WOW! Ya’ll, I absolutely LOVE this passage of Scripture because it reminds me of how intentional the Father’s love and provision is for us! The LORD is our SHEPHERD! God Himself lies us down in green pastures and leads us beside quiet waters! God renews and replenishes us because He LOVES us! Take a moment and think about what your Monday-Sunday normally looks like … are you constantly on the go? By the end of the day are you absolutely exhausted and ready to go to bed?
Do you want to spend time in the Word and with the Lord but aren’t sure how?
Are you afraid of what God is trying to tell you so you aren’t listening? If we aren’t careful, these can hinder us from growing in and with God!
- What struggles have been strongest in distracting you from having time with Jesus?
One thing I can say with absolute confidence is that we live in a society that demands our response with our time! Sometimes we misunderstand that busyness doesn’t always mean productivity! We begin to replace being with doing, and the noise of the world begins to fill our ears and influence the distractions in our lives! This noise and busyness will distract us from going deeper with God! When I originally looked at this question the first thing I thought of was the word “distraction!” This word is so commonly used that sometimes we forget the weight and impact it has on our lives, relationships, spirits, and vocations! However, if we learn to approach distraction with faith and truth, we will not only grow closer to God, but we will begin to influence distraction instead of being influenced by distraction! Matthew 16:24 (CSB) so intentionally says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, if anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Jesus does not promise you the “good life” you THINK you deserve; He promises the good life He KNOWS He has for you! You will begin to experience the good life GOD has for you with and through HIM, in obedience, by denying yourself, following and living for Jesus in every area of your life!
So, before we dive into the struggles and distractions we face when spending time with the Lord, I want to encourage you to grab your journal, a piece of paper, or your phone and write down both what the word DISTRACTION means to you and what distractions/struggles you feel are pulling you away from you growing closer with the Lord and spending time in the Word daily!
Below is an acronym I created for the word DISTRACTION. I truly feel that as vague as this word is, it has a big impact on our lives! We are all unique vessels for the Kingdom of God, but this word is universal to all of us just in different ways! Grab your favorite highlighter pen or pencil and circle the letters that resonate with your spirit and life the most right now!
D-Feeling Distant when seeking the Lord
I-Involved with too many “good” things (saying yes to a lot of opportunities/experiences) that you can’t focus on the one “great” thing (spending daily time in the Word and going deeper with God)
S-Feeling Silence/Stillness when seeking God: When I feel this, I normally say out loud, “Jesus I know You are listening, but I don’t feel Your presence. Please speak to me … I am here … I am listening.”
I’m going through an AMAZING devotional by Priscilla Shirer right now. One thing that she says that I absolutely love is, “The Lord isn’t hiding FROM you but FOR you, to leave tiny hints of goodness in your life as you seek Him!” WOW! How amazing is it that the Lord WANTS you to discover Him! He WANTS to be found! As you are seeking God, He even leaves TINY HINTS OF GOODNESS in your life!!
T-Too many voices from the world telling you how to use your Time so by the end of the day, the only thing you have energy for is getting into bed
R-Sometimes we just Really don’t want to hear what the Lord is saying to us so we choose not to listen
A-Always focused on discovering the WHY, the WILL God has for your life, or the ANSWER to a prayer that you end up losing sight of discovering a deeper, more intimate, and beautiful relationship with Jesus!!
C-Constantly on the go
T-Tired from your day feel like you have no energy left to give to the Lord
I-Sometimes, we just Insist on living the way we want
O-Opinions of others (wanting validation, approval, direction from others) that we seek to spend our time immersed in the world instead of the Word
N-Outside Noise: This could be your own thoughts, lies from the enemy, or actual noise (distraction) from things or people around you!
We will come back to this acronym in a little bit, but keep your highlighters, pencils, phone, and Bible out!
When I think about the struggles and distractions I’ve had when spending time with the Lord daily, there are two things I immediately think of.
- Being absolutely exhausted from my day
- Feeling distant from the Lord as I seek him
What I have learned is that the enemy will take any singular distraction in our lives and make it seem so much bigger than it is or hinder our eyes from seeing that we are being distracted!
Lately I’ve been finding myself saying, “Jesus I know in my heart, spirit, and soul that You are real, You are good, and You are God. I know that You’re listening. I know that You’re with me, but I’m feeling distant Jesus. I want to experience You. I want to experience Your presence. Jesus please meet me where I am at. I am here and I am listening. I am longing for another holy encounter!”
What I have learned is that the ENEMY will WANT me to believe that God is being distant and that He isn’t hearing me. When I have felt silence, I have to quiet the noise around me, quiet my thoughts, and press into the Word because so often it is IN THE SILENCE that God has MARVELOUS things He wants to show you and reveal to you!
If we entertain the wrong voices, we will allow the lies of the enemy and distraction from the world to dictate our relationship with God! This is why it is SO important to learn how to discern the voice of the Lord in your life!
For me, silence and exhaustion (my distractions) are some of the ways Jesus has met me most! My daily schedule LITERALLY looks like the spaghetti bowl from Elf with a million and one things going on! Throughout my day, I talk to God (on my way to class, in the morning, in the car, literally wherever I am). I praise Him in my car, with my friends, and through journaling. There are many things that I do but sitting down and spending time in the Word daily is sometimes tricky with my schedule! By the end of the day I am normally so tired that I am just ready for bed! However, for the past two years or so, as I have been physically exhausted at night, I have been WIDE awake! (I’m talking … falling asleep at 8 am!) At first, I was so frustrated because I didn’t understand why I couldn’t sleep! I kept praying Psalm 23 and Matthew 11:28 over myself, but one day it just CLICKED! Matthew 11:28 (CSB) tells us, “’Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you REST.”
Because my day was so busy, the only time I had with Jesus were the few hours I had to get physical rest. Physically, your girl was tired, but Jesus kept me awake to just spend time with Him and be in His presence! Jesus filled my spirit with rest.
This reminds me of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3:2-4 (CSB)!
“Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. So Moses thought, ‘I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up?’ When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ ‘Here I am,’ he answered.”
The Lord was always with Moses, but it wasn’t until Moses noticed the bush on fire that God spoke out to him. Do you relate to this at all? (Girl, me too!) The beautiful thing is that God will always invite us to go deeper with Him. He just needs us to notice Him and walk over!
Our main question is “How can we go from sleepwalking (unaware of our distractions) to being fully awake, present in the presence of the Lord DAILY!?”
- Surrender in PRAYER!
Pray that the Lord would reveal the source of your distraction and help you overcome busyness with productivity. There is something SO beautiful and SO powerful about letting the Lord be the first person to speak to you, lead you, guide you, provide for you, and hear about what is happening in your life!
- INVITE the Lord into your day!
As you are waking up and before your feet hit the ground, pray that the Lord would bring you closer to Him. Pray that He would bless your day, that His Word would be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. While you are out and about, talk with the Lord. Laugh with the Lord. Cry with the Lord. Whatever you are doing, allow the Lord’s presence to shine upon you, heal you, encourage you, and speak to you! When God is our focus, our perspective, goals, and desires will begin to shift from worldly noise to heavily divine appointments!
When God has called you to do something, He will give you the time to do it! When we are passionate about something, we make time for it. Therefore, let’s take time to be present in God’s presence!
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying.” -Mark 1:35 (CSB)
A few ways you can do this is by:
- Waking up 30 minutes earlier to spend time in the Word, pray, and simply sit with God
- Turn on your Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, or Elevation Worship station in the car and worship God
- Have a prayer walk (going into the store, on your way to work, in between classes)
- Journal your prayers
- Silence or put your phone away when you have quiet time
- Write down some ways you can turn your distractions and struggles into intentional time with Jesus every day
This can be anywhere from a quick prayer in the morning to praising God in the car. It could also be writing down “Quiet time with Jesus from __ to__ o’ clock on __ days!
- Wait before the Lord with an expectant heart
Sometimes when we approach the throne of grace, we expect the Lord to speak to us and meet us with big and miraculous gestures! While God does do this, He also speaks to us in His still of the morning! Be aware of the Lord in both the quiet still moments and those miraculous revelations! Our God is the same God. He never changes, but the way that He speaks to us and meets us will be different depending on the seasons that we are in and the ways He wants to reveal His messages to us. While you are waiting quietly before Him with an expectant heart, allow your eyes, your ears, and your soul to be aware of the ways the Lord wants to speak to you!
- Let God’s voice break through your noise
God is wanting to speak in the silence, in the stillness, and in the busyness!
Now, go back to the DISTRACTION acronym and look at what the Bible says!
T-Matthew 11:28 + Psalm 46:10
I-Matthew 16:24-26 + Proverbs 12:15 + Psalm 119:105
O-Romans 9:25, Deuteronomy 7:6 + Ephesians 1:7 + Isaiah 49:16
I pray that you are SO encouraged to detect distractions and to be present in God’s presence!
2. What Bible do you use to daily spend time with Jesus?
This is probably one of my favorite questions! There is something so special and so beautiful about having your very own Bible! Having your own Bible is having a personal invitation to invite the Lord to spend time with your soul, renew your mind, replenish your spirit, revive your authentic joy, and create something new in you! When you open up your Bible, you are saying, “Jesus, I love You. I want to hear You and be near You. I want to be still and know that You are good and that You are my God. Allow me to dwell in Your presence. Speak to me and show me more of who You are today!” When we approach scripture with authentic joy, humility and surrender, we will taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)! We will experience the Holy Spirit leading us with the Word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).
My mom was the first person to ever buy and dedicate a Bible to me! She bought my sisters and I each a light blue Discover Bible for children. Oh my word! I was SO excited to open it up, use it, and have my own Bible! We would take our Bibles to church every single Sunday ready to get into the Word in our little kids classes in the children’s ministry! A few years later, I picked out a hot pink CSB Bible with my mom, and she dedicated it to me on the inside of the front cover! She also wrote out little cute tabs so I could easily find the different books of the Bible! This was my primary Bible up until my junior year of college! The summer of my junior year, I had accidentally left my Bible in my storage unit before flying home! I didn’t realize it until I was in Texas!
I had no intention of the ways God was about to prune, sharpen, and equip me as He brought me into a new season, major, and friendships all within two months! That summer God met me, spoke to me, and healed me in more ways than ever before! My sister and I went into Barns & Noble in Southlake, Texas. As we were walking the isles, we discovered the “She Reads Truth” Bible! I remember that day so clearly! We were sitting on the floor in the midst of a bunch of Bibles, just flipping through the pages, and I remember looking at her and saying, “This is it, this is my Bible!” A few days later, my oldest sister surprised me with the very Bible I had seen just a few days earlier! My She Reads Truth Bible was one of my saving graces! It was through this Bible that my spoken prayers became written prayers between the lines of scripture. My tears became one with the pages, and my heart went from being broken in the world to being whole in my King! I have had this Bible for almost two years, and it is literally falling apart! I have to glue it once a week to make sure that it stays intact! What I absolutely love is that as my Bible is falling apart, my life becomes more and more focused on going deeper with Jesus!
Jesus, through His Word, has continuously shown me:
1. Jesus calls you BELOVED (Romans 9:25)
2. YOU are God’s TREASURED POSESSION (Deuteronomy 7:6)
3. YOU are His Child (John 1:12 + Romans 8:17)
4. You are FREE (Galatians 5:1)
5. You have been REDEEMED (Ephesians 1:7)
6. Authentic JOY is found in God’s presence (Psalm 16:11)
7. HE has your NAME written in the PALM of HIS HANDS (Isaiah 49:16)
My prayer for you is that as you find that one Bible that you love more than anything, you would fall apart within the pages of your Bible, seek refuge in the word of God, and find JOY in God’s everlasting love for you! There is something SO beautiful and SO special about intentionally seeking, learning, and understanding the Word of God in a Bible you get to call your very own!
A few FUN suggestions!
1. Along with your main Bible, have Bibles of different translations so you can study scripture as you read and learn it!
2. Have fun colored pens/markers/highlighters/sticky-notes etc.
3. Get/buy/rent/borrow a few commentaries! These are SO beneficial in diving deeper in the context, setting, and meaning behind literally every verse in the Bible!
I pray that you are SO encouraged to get your very own Bible and dive deeper in your relationship with Jesus! YOU are SO loved!
3. Where do you begin in opening up God’s Word? How would you encourage others to study Scripture?
My prayer for you through this question is that you would learn new ways to study God’s Word! I pray that your heart would dance, leap, and twirl to the rhythm of God’s love letter to and for you (His living breathing Word)!!! I pray that you would dive into the Word with an expectant soul, open heart, and surrendered Spirit!
Opening up God’s Word can seem intimidating if we don’t really know where to start! I want to first encourage you with 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (CSB) which so beautifully declares, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
When we open God’s Word, we should be seeking to both understand and interpret scripture! The Word of God is a lamp to our feet and light to our path as Psalm 119:105 says! It is through the Word that we are prepared both in season and out of season!!
Romans 12:2 (CSB) states, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
We are CALLED to live in this word but to be set apart from it with the renewing and transforming of our minds and lives! YOU … yes YOU … BEAUTIFUL, WORTHY, RADIANT, and LOVED Daughter of God … are a PRINCESS WARRIOR! YOU are clothed with STRENGTH and DIGNITY and can laugh without fear of the future (Proverbs 31:25).
When you seek the Holy Spirit in the Word of God, you will NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER be let down! The Lord wants to be found. He wants you to open His Word, seek Him, and find Him so He can BLESS you (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, in your calling).
Below are a few ways I have been studying scripture lately! I pray that these simple and fun steps encourage you to study and interpret scripture, go deeper in the Word, and draw you closer to the ABUNDANT FULLNESS of BLESSINGS God has for you! It is through the WORD that we discover the GREATNESS God has for us! His way is always BIGGER, BETTER, BEST!
- RE-DISCOVER YOUR WHY!
-Why do you WANT to read your Bible?
-When we re-discover our why, we will be motivated to get into the Word and meditate on scripture daily!
- BE HONEST WITH GOD!
-Simply talk with God about how you are feeling and pray for a REVIVAL over your Spirit!
-Pray that God would give you heavenly vision and INVITE Him to work in your spirit and life!
- START SMALL!
-Studying scripture takes time!
-Sometimes it’s good to just meditate on one verse for a few days!
- Have FUN with it!
-Studying Scripture is not meant to be black and white.
-Studying Scripture is meant to take you deeper in the Word and with the Lord so you can be the best version of you God created you to be and lead others around you closer to God!
-They are your best friend! Commentaries are basically really big books that explain the scriptures verse by verse! If there is ever a scripture or verse you don’t understand or have questions on, open up one of these gems with a good cup of coffee and get to reading!
- Use pens/highlighters/ have a separate journal for each book of the Bible where you can document what you are learning and what God is showing you!
- Start by looking at the background of the book that you are reading
–Who (was the author/audience)
–What (was the context/purpose)
-When (was the time period)
-Where (was it located)
-Why (was this written)
-How (was this impactful during the time and what can I learn from it)
As Biblical women, we have an UNRIVALED, BEAUTIFUL, UNIQUE, and IMPORTANT MISSION! We are called to be teachers of the Word! Teaching Truth is unlike teaching any other thing!
Titus 2:1-5 (CSB) so intentionally states, “But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching. Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, and in submission to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be slandered.”
As women, we are to encourage, equip, lead, mentor, disciple, and teach what is good to other women! What is good? THE GOSPEL! It is all about GRACE, TRUTH, LOVE, FORGIVENESS and HOLINESS!!
The best way to lead others is to first be led by the Word and the Lord!
Take a deep breath, sister. Grab your favorite cup of coffee or tea, your Bible, pens, paper, and get into the Word!
4. While spending an hour or more in God’s Word is dreamy, it is not always realistic for our schedules. Can you share how God’s Word impacts us even when we fill ourselves up with Scripture for a few minutes?
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” -Romans 10:17 (ESV)
Have you ever noticed in the Old Testament that God LITERALLY spoke through clouds by day (Exodus 13:21), fires by night (Exodus 3:4), angels (Daniel 8:5), and dreams and visions (Numbers 12:6)? God spoke through these different ways because His people didn’t have the Holy Spirit to dwell in their inner beings to lead and guide them! In the New Testament and today, the main way that God speaks to us is THROUGH the HOLY SPIRIT and His WORD! There is so much AUTHORITY and POWER in the WORD of GOD!
God is magnificent enough to work in these miraculous ways. Please hear my gentle words, though, when I say that when the Lord confirms something to you through others, it will only be to confirm what He has already said through His Word to your spirit!
Sometimes when we approach Scripture, we expect massive revelations and feel like we have to spend hours in the Word for God to see our devotion and speak to us. Can I tell you something? Some of the most AMAZING encounters I have had with God have been in minute increments!
Matthew 7:7 (CSB) states, “’Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.”
When we come before the Lord simply expecting to spend time in His presence, we will be attentive to the Spirit, ready to listen for the voice of God, ready to be refreshed and ready to be replenished in whatever way God meets with us.
Matthew 17:20 (CSB) states, “’Because of your little faith,’ he told them. ‘For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”
God doesn’t require any pre-requisites and He doesn’t require hours and hours of your attention at a time! Have you ever seen a mustard seed? What a gracious God we have to ask so little of us! God wants to pour into your life and bless you in your time with Him!
What are some ways I can be refreshed and impacted by Scripture for a few minutes each day?
- Beloved, be a PRAYER WARRIOR in FULL SURRENDER! When we actively seek the Lord in prayer, we are entrusting God with our deepest hurts, insecurities, desires, and opportunities. We must believe that He hears us and will meet us. He will meet us!
- “Be still and know that I am God.” -Psalm 46:10 – Be still in the presence of God knowing He is good! God is your Father, Provider, and Protector! Let Him show you how He sees you and how much He loves you!
- God’s Word is sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). There is POWER in the NAME of Jesus!
We can all take a few moments every day to meditate on a few verses, sing a song to God, journal for five minutes, do a devotional in the morning, and read our Bibles. These disciplines will help us receive the love, healing, and truth of God that will shine upon us and impact our lives. We will be changed from the most inner parts of our beings to the ways we speak to others and love them.
Have you ever noticed that out of the four seasons of nature, only one of them contains nature blooming? The sun shines so radiantly in the summer, the leaves change colors in the fall, and perfectly symmetrical snowflakes trickle down as winter sets in! Just like these seasons, God places us in different seasons to prune us, equip us, heal us, love us, speak to us, and make us new in Him.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) states, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Although our seasons change, our God remains CONSTANT! God formed you in your mother’s womb. He knows, loves, and cherishes you! God knows your heart and your intentions in your time with Him! When we seek a genuine, beautiful, intimate, growing, and sharpening relationship with the Lord, He will meet us where we are at and impact our lives! God ALWAYS wants to go deeper with you. No matter what season of life you are in, if you want to go deeper with the Lord, say YES to living the BLESSED LIFE He has for you and pray this prayer with me!!
“God, I believe that You are real and that You are good! I know that I am a sinner. Please forgive my sins. I believe in my heart and my mind that You sent Your one and only Son to die for my sins. I believe You raised Jesus from the dead. Make me new in You. God, I invite You in my life as my Lord and Savior both now and forever. I pray this in Your Mighty Name. Amen!”
**all words fully capitalized or underlined in the Bible verses were done by the blog writer for emphasizing certain messages
Jessica is from Dallas, Texas. Her favorite drink from Starbucks is a pumpkin spice iced latte! She is a senior at Liberty University! Halfway through her college experience, the Lord wrecked her heart in the best way possible by leading her to study Women’s Ministry instead of Bio-Med! She is passionate about loving Jesus wholeheartedly, writing devotionals, traveling, and encouraging those around her.