“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14).
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that you may obtain” (I Co. 9:24).
Dear Friends of Israel:
Jerusalem is a city with many facets, surprises and curiosities. I never get tired of looking at its golden walls, nor at the mountains that surround it. Jerusalem is the seat of the government, a city where three faiths try to co-exist, a destination for many pilgrims, and a place where the Messiah, our coming King Jesus will soon return. It has been called a “City of Peace,” yet has undergone more challenges to that name over the ages than most. It has been invaded, destroyed, conquered and rebuilt age after age. It is an archaeological paradise as new discoveries are made every day, yet a place where the Holy Spirit fell and still falls on believers who wish to receive a new anointing.
How does one define Jerusalem? I could describe it from its past glories, or those to come. It is an eternal city, marked for greatness in the ages to come. David writes that “of Zion it shall be said this and that man was born in her and the highest himself shall establish her. The LORD shall count when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah” (Ps. 87:5-6). It is an honor to be born here, and yet Marylois and I count it a great honor even to live here. This week we are hosting guests from Singapore, Czech, America and even Israel. A few of them are worshiping the Lord in our living room, even now as I write. What a blessing!
Pressing Towards the Mark
The city this week hosted its twelfth annual marathon, with over 40,000 participants engaging in six separate races. We at the House of Peace, had a front-row seat as a sea of runners pasted by us on Hebron Road. I was fortunate to see the front man of the race pass by. He looked as if he had wings, effortlessly flying by me. Then a short while later, the majority of the runners passed. I stood on the sidelines and cheered them on. Some were in shorts, a few of the women were in skirts, and a number had Israeli flags. There were groups that were in formation, and one man even ran bare-foot. Later those who were slower and perhaps weary came by. All were “pressing towards the prize of the high calling.”
Not far away from my post was a watering station. As the runners streamed by, volunteers quickly gave them bottles of water, so they could stay hydrated. Yet, seconds later, the same bottles now half empty were tossed into the street, where volunteers threw them into dumpsters. That was site to behold, as I made sure I was out of way of these flying missiles, which were spraying water everywhere.
My thoughts this day have been focused on the race that God has called us to, in this life. Some us may pass us by, in our lives as if they had wings, overcoming every challenge and being a front-runner in all situations. Others may be part of the majority, running together as one, pressing into achieving the victor’s crown, and a third group, weary and perhaps breathless, still endeavors to complete the race. I saw every type of racing clothes being worn, and thought of how God calls the Christian to be equipped for our spiritual race. We need a robe of righteousness, a belt of truth, shoes of peace, and an anointing to press towards the mark of the high calling. And my encouraging words to the runners, reminded me of Paul’s words in Hebrews: “We are compassed about with so great of cloud of witnesses”: (Heb. 12:1). The Holy Spirit, the angels and even the saints in heaven encourage us in times of stress, weariness and when we feel like fainting.
I have run races before, become weary halfway through them and then suddenly found “a second wind” welling up within me, refreshing and renewing my energy to run. The anointing of the Holy Spirit in our lives gives us that “second wind” when we need it. And yes, even those flying water bottles spoke to me. We as believers need the living waters of His presence in our lives. Jesus declared: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (Jn. 7:37-38)
Noah Kigen Kiprotich from Kenya reaches
the finish line first during the 12th annual
Jerusalem Marathon, March 17, 2023.
(Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)
The High Calling
The 1981 film “Chariots of Fire” accurately portrays the life of Eric Liddell, a participant in the 1924 Paris Olympics. If you haven’t seen this movie, go check it out on Netflix and be encouraged in your life’s race. Eric, a man of strong Christian principles, was scheduled to run the 100 meter race, an event he was favored to win. Eric, otherwise known as “the Flying Scotsman withdrew because the qualifying heat was on a Sunday. He believed that the Father God would not have him run on the Lord’s Day. He instead trained and qualified for a place in the 400 meter event. Many dismissed his participation in this race, and he was not favored to win. However, Eric went on to win a gold medal and break a world record in this event, proving all the nay-sayers wrong. Eric stated afterwards: “God made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”
Later Liddell became a missionary to China. He married and started a ministry there. Then Japan invaded the land. Eric sent his wife and children to Canada, but he remained. Soon he was interned by the Japanese, and placed in a prison camp, which lacked running water and bathrooms. Eric ministered Christ to all there but gave up his life as well. After two years of hardship, he experienced a stroke then had trouble breathing. His last words were: “It is surrender.” Eric Liddell was 43. He had run the race of the High Calling, was faithful unto death and had received the victor’s crown from His Lord.
We too are called to run our race for Christ and to receive His victor’s crown. Paul writes: “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset us and let us run with patience, the race that is set before us.” Christ continually beckons us onward, for He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
I hope these words have encouraged you this day, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will come and bring you a fresh wind of His Presence into your life. I pray an overcoming, breakthrough for you over all setbacks and afflictions that might hinder your Calling. May you find your victory in Christ, over all circumstances and situations.
Running His Race/ Shabbat Shalom
Gene and Marylois/House of Peace