New Wine Letter to Rock Bridge

Matt Evans

Posted February 11, 2019
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Note: This letter was read to the church at the end of the Part 5 sermon of Seasons.

Rock Bridgers,

One of the greatest services I can give you as your lead pastor is clarity about what God seems to be doing in our midst and where He seems to be taking us as His people.

While I know we all tend to relate to God on personal terms and at an individual level, I ask you to see God through the lens of your corporate belonging to a spiritual family and your involvement in the local church that is Rock Bridge.

I ended 2018 at a low point in ministry, convicted of negligence in my leadership and aware that the fear of the Lord had waned in me and in us as a people. Our worship was too casual, our prayers too cliché and too powerless. We had lost our first love for Jesus and weren’t loving others as He has loved us. Simply put, we were coasting and drifting—a dangerous condition because we never drift toward God, toward holiness, toward purity, or toward Christ-likeness.

However, God gave us the grace of humility, the grace of poverty of Spirit and the grace of brokenness—the kind of grace that brings weakness and openness … the kind of grace that recognizes the need for renewal and admits that the old wineskins won’t hold the new paths of His refreshing presence and power.

So, God made us thirsty for something new and fresh from Him.

God made us hungry for the only bread that satisfies the soul – Himself. And we began to seek the Lord in prayer and fasting more than we have ever engaged in together as a team. We took God’s command to call out to Him seriously and believed His promise that He would answer and show us great and incomprehensible things that we did not know. In other words, we believed new wine would flow but that the old would have to go.

And now, we sense a stirring of His Spirit, a spark of the holy fire that inflames the soul.

  • I hear it in your prayers as many of you arrive early to pray before our services.
  • I hear it in your voices as you sing to the Audience of One.
  • I see it in our staff and Elders who are listening, leading, and serving as men and women who have been with Jesus—ministering from the overflow of the living water of God’s Spirit inside of them.
  • I sense it at 1st Wednesday when I hear you pray for one another and seek the Lord for Who He is more than what He can give.

So I don’t share news of an attendance record being broken or a new ministry being launched or a new goal being set. Instead, I share a new hunger and a new thirst for God and His presence; a small, invisible yet detectable blowing of fresh wind and the warmth of fresh fire from heaven.

But this stirring is not just for some of us who call Rock Bridge our church or those of us who happen to be on staff but for all of us because we are one church—one body, with one faith, under the one Great and Only God.

So I invite you into this season of fresh wind and fire; this season of renewal and refreshing from the Lord; this time for new wine.

  • Accepting this invitation will require that you become dissatisfied with the you who tries to exist apart from God and that you hunger for the food that comes not from human hands, but only from heaven.
    • If you lack this dissatisfaction or this hunger, then ask the Lord to give it to you; ask Him to give you a preference for the new wine.
  • Accepting this invitation will require us to search and read the Word of God to find God, not merely comply with a religious duty. So next week we start a new series on the Book of Ezra, called EZRA: The Way Back because God is calling us back to Him … because many of us have wandered, coasted and drifted; others of us have gotten complacent or grown stagnant; some of us have ceded ground to Satan and His schemes and lies and deceptions; some of us are enslaved … we have become exiles existing apart from the fullness of God, we are sinners in need of the grace of God …and Ezra shows us the way back because God is faithful, God is good and new wine is coming … and we are thirsty for it and making room to receive it.

Rock Bridge, I plead with you to accept this invitation—wherever you are in life or with God.  Make room for more of God than you presently have or know.

  • Pray for God to show you more of Himself.
  • Ask Him to make you thirsty and trust His promise for living water.
  • Pray about our time together next week in gathered church—in song, in prayer, and in Ezra … and then show up hungry, expectant, ready to seek to the Lord.
  • And do not rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) but trust in Him and lean all of your faith on this promise found in Isaiah.

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call to Him while he is near.
Let the wicked one abandon his way and the sinful one his thoughts; let him return to the Lord…