In his sermon last weekend, guest preacher Phil Pringle taught how giving one’s dreams up to God allows Him to bring them back to life.
City Harvest Church welcomed its longtime friends Phil and Chris Pringle, founders of C3 Church in Sydney and leaders of C3 Global last weekend (23-24 Sep). Pastor Phil brought a powerful sermon titled “Given”, encouraging the church to learn to surrender to God.
He began with John 12:24 and 1 Corinthians 15:36, which speak of seeds dying in the ground before they can grow and bear fruit. The idea of letting something die in order to gain something greater is counterintuitive because people want to keep what they have in their hands alive.
“But unless this happens, your potential will never be realised,” Pastor Phil explained. “The key to maximising any potential in your life is that you ‘die’.”
While his use of the word “die” was metaphorical, the process of going through dark seasons in life is very real. All hope seems lost and one often feels that the dream will never come back to life again.
“But it does come alive,” the pastor declared.
WHEN THE SEED FALLS TO THE GROUND
Pastor Phil used his own journey in his ministry as an illustration. Hailing from New Zealand, he received his calling to be a pastor when he first gave his heart to Jesus. When an opportunity came up in Sydney, he packed up and went with his wife.
However, he did not felt the peace of God in his heart while he was there. While his ministry was growing, he knew that he was at the right place but he was not broken enough to fulfil his calling. Soon, he surrendered to God, gave up his ministry and went home to New Zealand.
He gave up his dream and went to work as a postman. One day God spoke to him again—this time, to start a church in Lyttelton, New Zealand. He was surprised that God was still speaking to him because he had not heard God’s voice in the past six months.
Even though Lyttelton was just a little town with only 3,000 people, Pastor Phil went happily, but found that the church did not grow much. Still he was faithful in the small things.
During the second year of his ministry there, he heard God calling him to go to Sydney, Australia again. This time, he knew how to follow God’s timing instead of getting impatient and running ahead of God. “I was too broken to try and wrestle my way into the plan of God,” he said. This time, the ministry flourished.
The next thing God wanted Pastor Phil to do was to write a book, a booked titled Faith. He completed his first draft of the book, but failed to save his work and lost it all. He started again, using a little Brother laptop. He had finished it a second time when he left it on a phone booth in Los Angeles. His dream of writing a book died again and again but he did not give up. Faith was eventually published, and became hugely successful. Since then, Pastor Phil has written 26 books.
Despite the multiple trials that he went through at the beginning of his ministry, the pastor knew that God had a plan for his life. “I want you to understand there is a way of God that you might be going through right now,” he said. “When you feel like it’s dying—’it’s over, I can’t even see a future’—that’s because all your flesh has died, your self-will is dying. So that the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can come up through you and start to bring to life to what has died, been purified, purged, broken to God, filled with the Holy Spirit, not with your spirit,” he encouraged the church.
“Whatever God gives you, it’s not for you, but it’s for you to give back to Him.”
He told the church that there are certain plans in a person’s personal life that God wants to fulfil but they would not be able to decipher it while they are going through their trials and tribulations. Once they have gone through their dying experience, God will bring it back to life.
He told the church how he gave up art when he became a Christian so as not to be distracted. Twenty-five years later, God gave him an image. He painted it and someone came to buy it from him. Since then, he has gone on to paint many other paintings that have sold very well.
Pastor Phil reminded the congregation that sometimes, a dream must die so that it can grow and bear fruit that will flourish. “I had to accept that my dream was gone and let it go out of my hands into the hands of God,” he described.
He went on to give two examples from the Bible.
1. The Boy Who Gave His Lunch To Jesus
Mark 6:35-44 records the famous story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes that a little boy gave Him. While this little amount of food might not seem like much, it was likely precious to a child who had been listening to sermons all day and was probably hungry.
Jesus did not think that what the boy was giving Him was too little to feed the multitude. “What He can do with your little is far more than you could ever do with a lot,” Pastor Phil preached.
“Whatever you are bringing to the Lord, you come with thanksgiving—that is the key to your miracle. If you are complaining of how little you’ve got, you are opening the door to darkness,” he explained. Complaining releases the devil while thanksgiving opens the door to God and closes the door on the devil.
He encouraged the church not to moan about their trials to others because “sympathy will not help you. Faith will.” When believers learn to fix their eyes on Jesus during trials, they will be moulded into His image—which is God’s original intention.
After Jesus took the food from the little boy, He looked up to heaven. “Bcause that is the source of His supply,” Pastor Phil explained. Jesus did not look to people for an answer, but to God, because He is the only One who can provide the solutions.
Yet, God’s solutions often come in the most uncomfortable and inconvenient ways. He does this to train soldiers for His Kingdom.
2. The Father Who Gave His Son To God
Genesis 22:1-19 tells the story of Abraham who waited a long time for a miracle child from God. When he finally received that miracle, God told him to sacrifice the child to Him.
“God never intended to make Abraham perform a human sacrifice. He wanted to see the extent of Abraham’s commitment,” the pastor noted. It took deep faith in God for Abraham to sacrifice his son, but he was fully convinced that God would raise his son from the dead.
When Isaac asked Abraham where the sacrifice was, Abraham told him that God would supply it. Pastor Phil noted that the greatest provision God can give His believers is something that they can bring back to Him. “Because then it will multiply, it will get the life of God in it, and the power of the Holy Spirit,” he noted.
There are many other stories in the Bible where believers had to give up on their dream to have God fulfil it for them. “As long as we’re holding strong to our selfish flesh unbroken, we will be stumbling through life, limited by our own puny experience, our own puny ability,” Pastor Phil preached. “But once we are broken to God, that anointing oil of God flows through us.”
Pastor Phil ended his message by urging the church to surrender their lives to Jesus in a powerful altar call that saw many respond.