Perseverance - The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of
This article was featured in Treasures from the Heart newsletter by Forshia Ross.
I flung myself on the bed, crying. I couldn't take it anymore. Why was it so hard to do what God had placed on my heart to do? I knew I had heard correctly, but then again maybe I hadn't. If God had told me to teach, then wouldn't He make it easier?
Each time I prepared for the Bible study, it wasn't a labor of love, but a labor that took every ounce of courage, which seemed to me, to be almost nil. Wouldn't I feel more confidence and not this nagging sense of inability and inadequacy? I was so tired of trying to be strong. It couldn't be this hard to serve God, could it? What was the problem? What was the blockage? What was the answer?
Suddenly, there before was a man dressed in torn dirty rags, his hair greasy from lack of washing, his hands grimy as they reached out for me. His eyes were vacant, but behind the vacancy, an expression of hopelessness, sadness, and entrapment beckoned me. I knew this to be a vision from the Lord so I was not afraid, but I didn't have a clue as to what this meant.
"Lord! What does this mean?" I said. Instantly, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. "This is a spirit of poverty that is attacking you every time you try to go forward." "Well, I knew what to do with spirits!" I thought. "I'll just rebuke them"! So I did. "In the Name of Jesus," I said, with great authority in my voice, " I rebuke you, you spirit of poverty, you shall no longer have any power over me!" Guess what? The spirit didn't budge. He continued to look at me with doleful eyes. "What's wrong, Lord? Why isn't he disappearing?"
The answer from the Lord really shook me. "This is not going to disappear right away in your life. This is something you need to overcome."
This scene took place many, many years ago and during the years that followed God taught me much about overcoming lack in my life.
The Spirit of Poverty
What is poverty, exactly? The word poverty as defined in the Hebrew and Greek has several meanings: Lack, want, to fail, lessen, bereave, cause to decrease, make lower, to seize, to rob, to expel, to impoverish, to ruin, consume, destroy, disinherit, dispossess, to make poor, needy, deficiency, to be a beggar, to cringe, cause to fall, to frighten, and to occupy by driving out previous tenants and possessing in their place.
All these meanings actually point to lack. Lack simply means not having enough. It is more than just a matter of money, but a mind-set that is permeated with a failure mentality. Years of failure, bad choices, critical input, and, yes, poverty in the pocketbook can cause an outlook that sees through the lenses of lack. If all you have known is lack, then even when we give our lives to the Lord, we can tote around this ragbag of wrong thinking. We can actually attribute lack as the will of God. And yes, this can open the door to an influence of one of satan's emissaries - the spirit of poverty. Knowing these weaknesses and strongholds, the spirit of poverty attacks relentlessly hoping to keep you down and believing you will never succeed, you will never change, and you'll never fulfill that dream you have in your heart. But guess what? That is a lie!
Weakness - A Springboard to Victory
I could not simply rebuke this spirit because the weaknesses and strongholds in this area gave this spirit a foothold in my life from which to influence my thinking and my circumstances. The enemy would tell me: "you'll never make it, who told you you could teach, you're not qualified, you don't know enough of the Bible, nobody's going to show up and on, and on, and on. But each time I heeded that voice, I added another brick to the stronghold of poverty. The answer, of course, is in God's Word!
2Corinthians 12:7-9 (Amplified) 7 And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of satan , to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. 8 Three times I called upon the Lord and besought (Him) about this and begged that it might depart from me; 9 But He said to me, "My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you (sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully); for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in (your) weakness." Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!
In other words, this grace or ability that comes from God was sufficient to raise a barrier, to ward off, and to avail (meanings from the Greek) against this spirit. God was not saying that I am allowing this spirit to harass you so that you will fail but to cause you to become strong by relying on my grace to provide the answer, the barrier, and the strength to rise above and be victorious.
Another interesting meaning from the word sufficient is to be content. Paul said he had learned the secret of being content in any and all circumstances. Contentment is that steady assurance of God's grace and strength even in the midst of horrific circumstances or demonic attack.
Philippians 4:11-13 (Amplified) 11 Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. 12 1 know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. 13 1 have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me (I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency).
What is the secret? It's finding Christ's sufficiency to face every situation with God's response. Inadequacies, insecurities, are what satan, others, and you yourself use to tell yourself that you will never overcome, you will never be God's godly man or God's godly woman, your family will never serve Christ. Isn't it something that the very thing that satan uses to rob us of our inheritance can be the very thing that will make us find that secret place of GOD'S SUFFICIENCY - GOD'S GRACE - GOD'S POWER - GOD'S ANSWERS - GOD'S RESPONSES - GOD'S VICTORY!
The Secret Place of Contentment
My grandmother, who is now deceased, lived in the mountains of Alabama. Up until that time she never had running water or modern conveniences but I always remember her as being rich in God's contentment and provision. She so trusted Him for everything that it was evident in her surroundings and the peaceful presence that she brought. She often told me, "Forshia, you know, God's will will be done."
I remember her vegetable garden well. It was nothing but hard, rocky ground but out of it always came the most beautiful fruits and vegetables. People marveled at how her garden grew despite the hard ground. In her latter years she was not able to mow the lawn. Instead of weeds taking over her yard, it began to be covered with moss. She told me that since she couldn't take care of her lawn God did it for her. It was so luscious, like velvet carpet. Everyone loved to walk on it barefoot in the summertime and sprawl out on it and look up at the sky. Where there was no moss, there were flowers - an abundance of flowers everywhere. They seemed to have escaped the confines of their flower boxes to dance around her house with joy. What do you think she said about this phenomenon? You got it. She also attributed it to God. She said He knows I love flowers.
Matthew 5:5 (Amplified) Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous - with life, joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!
Where is the kingdom of heaven? The Bible says the kingdom of heaven is within you. All that you need to overcome is within the new spirit that God has given you through Jesus Christ. The word, kingdom, actually means a place of royalty and a foundation of power in the Greek. This scripture isn't saying you are blessed because you are poor (which also means beggarly, distressed and fearful) but it is really saying you are blessed when you rate yourself insignificant and insufficient in your own sight and strength for the kingdom of heaven (that place of power and sufficiency) is yours. In other words, the hope of your humbling is the kingdom of heaven. That's a rich place to be, a content place to be. The secret place of God's sufficiency and power. Got it?
Yes, my grandmother was rich. She had found the secret place of God's sufficiency and had her own secret garden, right in the middle of her circumstances.
Copper in the Hills and Dreams in Obscure Places
In Deuteronomy 8 , God speaks to the Israelites about the blessings of their inheritance, their promised land. He says in verses 8 and 9: 8 A land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey; 9 A land in which you shall eat food without shortage and lack nothing in it; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.
There is no lack in God. Look around you, there is copper in the hard places. Dig for it. Press in for it. Persevere for it. It's there - the well that never runs dry - the provision that never runs out - the strength that is always sufficient.
The word copper in the Hebrew actually means a valley in which a brook runs and it means to occupy and take as an inheritance. It also means the shaft of a mine. We tend to look for the circumstances to change when we need to "see" beyond our circumstances to the copper that is "hidden" in the hills of our problems.
What is the dream God has given you? God's dreams are built and come to pass on the substance of faith. This spirit of poverty can be the very thing to help you fight and be strong and to rely on God's grace. Satan thought he had accomplished his purposes by thinking he destroyed Christ on the cross, but it turned out to be the very path to resurrection life.
Tap into the mother lode: PERSEVERANCE .
Perseverance is needed to press into all that God has told you you can be. Each time that spirit of poverty barks its accusations at you and tells you circumstances will never change or you will never overcome, rise up! Each time you rise up and meet these "lies" with the truth, which is what the Word of God says about you, the cycle of poverty breaks and you become stronger. Eventually the cycles will come less and less until you know you have the victory.
What is perseverance? Sticking to a purpose or aim and never giving up what one has set out to do. Don't let the spirit of poverty rob you of your dream. There truly is a silver lining in every cloud!
If you like Forshia's way of writing, I'm sure you will enjoy her book: NO SECONDHAND ROSE, My Name is Forshia.
This book is the first of a trilogy about Forshia Ross' lifelong search for significance, love and purpose. Sandra Wezowicz, Aglow International, says: "Only one who has plunged into the abyss of emotional darkness and despair and then experienced deliverance and healing from it can speak with such confident joy of the faithfulness of God. Forshia's captivating story will restore hope to those who are wondering if they will ever be able to joyfully embrace life again. This testimony is faith building - a must reading!" Visit Forshia's Site