Tenacity – a study
I was meditating on the awesomeness of God bringing to fulfilment promises made regarding us as a family and for my children at the beginning of this year. As I have written before, our eldest is entering MBC this week to study the Word of the Lord full-time taking the responsibility of laying a firm foundation for her future. This is her decision and desire to answer the call of God on her life. It got me thinking on the road the Lord has walked with me and with us as a family from when I was born and as I was watching this like a movie in my head the Holy Spirit highlighted a conference we partook in as students in 1997 in the Neelsie in Stellenbosch. Prophet Nola was worshiping at the piano and we were worshiping in dance following the lead of Apostle Leigh and Prophet Lynette. Later that same day as we were all gathered with the conference attendees in the conference hall once again during worship the Lord spoke a word of warning through Prophet Nola, which for me I took as a rebuke, and she said to us as students we need to have tenacity, that we are too timid. How do we expect to win souls for the Lord, how do we expect others to want to serve God if we so cautiously and timidly worship Him afraid of what people might think or how they might react. We need to be tenacious. She explained how in Australia when they held worship concerts all over the country at some places the young people or even some older ones would come and stand in front of them arms folded proving they will not worship, others would shout profanities at them, others would start deliberately doing break dance or act in a way to deter others and them leading the worship from doing so – but the team persevered and in order to do so we need to be tenacious.
After seeing this “video “ again I heard the Holy Spirit instruct me to go make a study of it and wait and see what He reveals to me regarding this. Here is what I have discovered thus far:
Ø Does not stop holding something or give up something easily
· A tenacious grip – this made me think of Hebrews 1v2; Deut.33v27; Rom.8v38 – 39; 1 John4v9; 1John5v3 – He has a tenacious grip on us, for through His Son we have been re-connected with the Father and we increase our grip on our faith in Him when we continue to do His will and obey His Word because then that Love is the grip – the Love of God is the vice that grips us and we cannot escape from because His love is relentless, it never gives up. He loved us while we were yet sinners, and love of God in our hearts also stirs up the fear of the Lord. To truly love God is to have reverential fear of God.
Ø Continuing to exist – continuing to have influence for longer than you might expect
· Reminds me of church – Acts 5v29 – 39 The Pharisees and the council expected the move and the new church to end, yet it increased and multiplied and is still doing so today despite the believers having been fed to the lions in the coliseums or murdered and stoned – it carried on spreading throughout the earth.
Ø Holding fast – keeping a firm hold on property, principles, life etc. – Not readily relinquishing = persistent, resolute
· Heb.13v5 – Jesus has a firm hold on us, we belong to Him, so also we ought to have a firm hold on our faith, never give it up. Keep a firm hold on the vision God has given us as individuals, as a church and persevere despite opposition.
Ø Of memory – retentive, adhesive, sticky, strongly cohesive
· This to me speaks of remembering what God has done in the past, remembering how He has pulled us through in the past, how He always comes through for us; also remembering His Word. Working with the Word until it sticks in our minds and is written on our hearts. Setting our minds on Him, having our minds renewed so we can begin to see like God sees and think like Jesus thinks so our thoughts, actions and speaking line up with His. To adhere to His principles, laws, commandments, statutes, judgements, ordinances – to be glued to God
Ø To have tenacity – persistence, perseverance, stubborn determination = It is the quality displayed by someone who just won’t quit until they reach their goal. The quality of being determined to do or achieve something. It is a firmness of purpose with a persistent determination. A dogged stubborn determination to get to the goal, a job done, etc.
Synonyms for tenacity:
Persistence; persist; persistent
· The fact of continuing to try to do something despite difficulties especially when other people are against you and think that you are being annoying or unreasonable (Luke 18v1 – 8 esp. v8)
· The state of continuing to exist for a long period of time
· Continuing for a long period of time without interruption; or repeated frequently especially in a way that is annoying and cannot be stopped (The church, His apostles and prophets)
· Continuing firmly or obstinately (in opinion, course of action, doing) especially against obstacles, remonstrance (of institution, custom, phenomenon etc.) to continue in existence; to survive
(remonstrance – formal statement of public grievances; expostulation; protest; to make protest against)
· Persisting (in); enduring; constantly repeated; remaining instead of falling off – Jude 1v21
· The quality that makes you continue to do something even when this is difficult – (fierce, grim, dogged determinations)
Jesus has this for and toward us – a dogged and fierce determination to help us through, to save us. It makes me think of Yvette Brandt’s song ‘You’re the Most Faithful One” and Apostle Andre’s song “I’ll never let go of your hand”. He never stops providing opportunity for us to be saved, He never gives up on us for our lives to succeed.
· De-limitation; definition; a fixing of purpose; a fixed intention; resoluteness; tenacity to move in a fixed direction
De-limitation comes from limitation which means to determine limits or territorial boundaries. Therefore de-limitation would speak of getting rid of the boundaries, hindrances, obstacles placed in our way by our own limited thinking, the world’s blindness and limitations and the enemies’ efforts to stop what God is doing and for us to push through into that which God has for us.
Definition means to state the precise nature of a thing; making or being distinct; a degree of distinctness especially in of image given by lens or shown in photography or on cinema or television.
· A person or his mind or his action of determined (-ation); decided; bold; not vacillating; un-shrinking; firm of purpose
Vacillating means to move from side to side; oscillate; waver; fluctuate in opinion or resolution
Oscillate (-ion) means to cause to swing like a pendulum, to move to and fro between two points; to vary between extremes of opinion, action or condition.
James 1v6 – 8 and Eph.4v11 – 14 esp.v14
· The quality of continuing to try to achieve a particular aim despite difficulties
· Showing determination to achieve an aim despite difficulties
· A steadfast pursuit of an aim
· Consistent persistence
· Continue in a state of grace – Eph.2v8 – 10
· Continuing steadfastly, persisting in a course of action, in doing a task etc.
· Showing determination
· Not giving up easily
Obstinate – firmly adhering to ones chosen course of action or opinion; not easily persuaded; in-flexible; self-willed; un-yielding; not readily responding to treatment.
As I meditated on these word definitions and meanings the Holy Spirit revealed a few things to me.
We often speak of someone’s ‘mental toughness’ especially so in the sports world or very difficult political arenas. But as I was meditating on the meanings for tenacity and thinking upon how Jesus lived, I began to realise that athletes (as that is what I have experience in) only have mental toughness as far as they have made the effort to endure. If an athlete does not endure and persevere through rigorous training, learn to know their body, give it rest when it is ill or injured, overcome that time missed and the ‘set-back’ of having missed time training. If they don’t prepare daily, make time to visualise their training or to visualise the race before it commences then they cannot have that mental toughness to succeed, to finish. For some, not being in the top ten, or top five or first, is another hurdle to overcome and another building block in creating mental toughness. In the 90’s when I still competed, often the older athletes used to explain to me that I need to have “n harde koppie” in other words, roughly translated; I needed to be hard headed/stubborn/determined. In this way when it comes to race day I will persevere through any pain, hindrance or obstacle I may be faced with and I will not give up until I reach the finish line even if I am dead last and they have already begun to pack up equipment and athletes have gone home and I missed the prize giving.
The same is for us, if we want this ‘mental toughness’; operate in tenacity then we need to continually bring our minds into submission to the Word of God, we have to bring our minds into subjection to the mind of Christ – Rom.1v1-2; Phil.2v5 – 11 esp. v 5 but it is good to meditate on the whole section from v1 to 11; Phil.3v1 – 15 esp. v 12b and 15. We need to put on the mind of Christ as it were, because He left us an example 1 Peter 2v18 – 25.
Jesus had to show forth tenacity at various intervals in His life, two that are very clearly ear marked are the temptation in the Wilderness and then again the Garden of Gethsemane.
In the Garden, when He went to pray, firstly His closest disciples did not get the enormity of what He was about to face and the absolute need for encouragement and strength to go through and finish the job; they fell asleep at the sorrow of knowing He was leaving them not because they understood what was about to go down – and yet we see that Jesus even in this incredibly distressful time, did not condemn them but rather understood them and their capacity and encouraged them to at least try, make an effort so that they will not fall to temptation.
What is so incredible for me here is that just before this Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked for him to sift him as wheat, but that Jesus had already prayed for him that his faith not fail and then He instructs Peter that once he has returned he must encourage his brothers.(Luke 22v31 – 32) In Matthew we see that after Jesus had returned from His first time of praying it is Peter He speaks to and instructs to watch and pray lest he fall into temptation – why this is so remarkable for me is because later when Peter denies knowing Jesus, being one of His disciples and being with Jesus, he is the one who proclaimed that he will not stumble or be made to stumble because of Jesus. Then after Jesus is arrested we see Peter stumble because of Jesus, just as He had prophesied, but even this was already covered because Jesus had already prayed for him that his faith fail not – that he stays as tenacious as he was in the beginning and that these failures and mistakes not keep him persevering with that same tenacity to keep the doctrine of Jesus and believe. So even though we may not be faithful all the time, even though we may not always be tenacious, God is so toward us. He has a firm and unyielding grip on us ever since we came to Him and gave our lives over to Him, He has not let go; He has not given up on us. At our weakest He is strongest and He perseveres on our behalf so we will not fail. How awesome is that. Lu.22v39 – 46; Matt.26v36 – 46; Lu.22v31 – 34
The fact that Jesus was sweating blood to resist making a different way available for Himself just so He didn’t have to go through the process set out for Him shows that very dogged stubborn determination to keep the course, to stay in line with the will of the Father. To push through so that mankind can have an entry point through which to be reconciled to the Father. This precious salvation is a plan that the Trinity came up with together before they created the earth and man. And at that council, Jesus volunteered to be the One to be the door, the way back to the Father so He had to stick to His initial decision for this plan to work. He did ask His Father that if it were at all possible this cup be taken away from Him, but beautifully we see how He bows His will to the Fathers and says; “…nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done”. After going through this time of wrestling in the Spirit to the point of it manifesting in His flesh; His course was set, He was filled with that firmness of purpose to see it through no matter how extreme and unthinkably cruel and painful it all was to become. That tenacity kicked into gear fully. He chose to then continue in a state of grace – to draw on the grace available from His Father for Him to finish the job. Because grace is such an immensely powerful tool; it is a power that takes us out of darkness and into the Kingdom of Light. We need to access and lean on God’s grace more, it is powerful! So also we need to submit ourselves – tenaciously bring our flesh into subjection of the Holy Spirit – and complete the process God set out for us through the hand-picked suffering He chose for us so that our faith can come forth more precious than the purest of God.
Hebrews 12 is a good chapter to study, it sets our journey out so nicely for us and the goal we are heading toward as well as all the help we have along the way. For me ‘cloud of witnesses’ reminds me of the seconds you have in your team as an ultra-endurance athlete. They are stationed at various key points along the race and they are equipped with your supplements. Often your coach or coaches are also part of your ‘seconds’ support team and they put sticky notes on your water bottles or snacks that tell you if you need to adjust something, or to remind you of how to tackle the next section of the race or to just say ‘hey man, keep going, you’re looking good’ even though you feel like you’re falling apart J The church has saviours in it, and they are also our “seconds” on this race of endurance, urging us on toward the prize. The Apostles and Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers and Pastors are also there continually teaching us and instructing us in the Word of God – feeding us our supplements.
We have this tenacity in us, it is Christ within the hope of glory; all we have to do is access it and exercise it, just like we have to exercise our faith. All humans have equal sprint muscle fibre and endurance muscle fibre – so there is 50/50 of each in our bodies, the sprint muscle fibres (short-twitch muscle fibre) increase and become more in someone who works or exercises those muscles more for the sake of sprinting short distances than the endurance muscles; and the same effect for the other way around, those who exercise their slow twitch muscle fibres in order to endure longer distances will have more of these than those working on sprints. But here’s the interesting part, once you begin to train those endurance muscle fibres and they, multiply in your body, you can’t go back to sprinting again. You can run a few or swim a few sprints but your muscles will never again be able to contract and work at that same speed again. Once the endurance muscle fibres begin to grow you can’t go back. You can always move from sprinting to endurance but not the other way around. If our physical bodies are made this way, then so are our spirits. Jesus in us and the Holy Spirit has given us the ability to endure tremendous odds, all we have to do is work with Him and rely on the Holy Spirit and continue to study the Word through attending church, house hold, ladies and men’s meetings, summits and MBC Cells.
With new covenant eyes things like obstinacy (a description for tenacity) means we will firmly adhere to the call and cause of action Jesus determined for our lives. We have chosen to follow Him no matter what comes; we will not turn back Heb.10v35-39. No one can try and persuade me that God is not real. Just because I am ill-treated by others does not mean I am going to compromise my beliefs in Jesus; will not compromise with sin to be accepted; or liked; or so I can fit in; even if it means that I now have to walk alone.
Jesus from the Garden to the Cross walked alone. This did not sway Him from His course, despite torture, mockery, being spat upon, having His beard ripped out, slapped and ultimately whipped and crucified – because He was continuing in a state of grace (perseverance).
We have one very important and absolutely wonderful privilege in the Kingdom of God, and that is that none of us will miss the prize giving because we run this race not just with endurance but also with the medal already in our pocket because Jesus wrought the victory for us when He rose from the dead and was seated at the right hand of the Father and given the name above every name in heaven, on earth and under the earth.
What a priceless salvation – it is so precious we cannot put a price to it because there is no higher bid than that which Jesus paid, so let us run this race with endurance stay on course fixing our eyes on Christ – have tenacity!