Don't Sour The New Wine

The Lord is saying to us, "Don't let sour grapes spoil the new wine".

On hearing this I realised we likely haven't considered the fact that we could spoil or sour the new wine of the Spirit of God He is pouring out for us in this era. I think there's still a large assumption in the body of Christ that the new wine will happen to us, rather than through each us. If we can understand that the new wine, the outpouring of the Spirit of God in fresh ways, requires our participation and partnership where the Holy Spirit's transformative power in our life then flows out into the world around us - with intentionality, then we can also understand the word of the Lord on this matter.

How do we spoil the wine and what are the sour grapes? In viticulture sour grapes are considered the underripe grapes and are not used for wine making as their acidity ruins the wine. Maturity of the grapes is very important. Try eat a sour or unripe grape and it will set your teeth on edge, it will not taste great.

The sour grapes the Lord is referring to is multifaceted.

* Where there is lack of individual and relational maturity. Allow God to bring us fully through the development processes He has us in and not jumping the gun prematurely. We are all constantly growing and maturing, but at times we can tend to skip ahead of the process in desire of results, but in doing so we are not producing anything other than a bad taste because we have missed the development that actually produces the flavour. Ask the Lord, where am I in the development process? Am I getting ahead of myself? Or do I need to catch up because I stopped growing and maturing in areas? There is also a lack of relational maturity in the body. The wine is in the clusters, not the singular. We need to be growing in greater relational intelligence and ability than we are currently operating in.

*The Lord is also applying the lack of maturity to ministries. Where some understood the reset of 2020 and took heed, but in eagerness, responsibility and being uncomfortable in the in-between spaces, have prematurely rebuilt before their time and in doing so have constructed refurbished versions of the old ways instead of the new. Because none of us have 'gone this way before', much is still unfolding before us. It can be unsettling and even look a little foolish to be in a transitional holding pattern because it doesn't always look like a lot is happening on the outside. But the Lord isn't dismantling our man made structures just for us to put other structures up in their places. And the deconstruction of wrong scaffolding happens internally in the renewal and transformation of our minds before it happens externally, unfortunately we tend to try and work it from the outside in. So we need to ask ourselves a few questions. How much of the construction in the past 12months looks an awful lot like revamped old scaffolding, or newly borrowed scaffolding? Borrowed scaffolding might be new to you but it's still part of the old. Lord, what did I pick up again that you said to lay down? Lord, what has been implemented or constructed before it was a fully formed concept and therefore a premature version lacking its correct place and purpose? Lord, has any of my constructing stolen my joy because I was acting prematurely? Lord, where are you asking me to wait on you to develop, bring revelation, wisdom and understanding more than I have currently realised. And if you are brave, Lord tear down my internal and external scaffolding I built either in my own image of understanding or prematurely. There is still a lot of old season functioning going on even with the awareness of the new upon us, mainly because we haven't yet comprehended just how dramatically different this era really is and allow the revelation of that to offend our senses. Newly fermented wine will sit in barrels in the cold, in the dark for 6-30 months to develop their flavours. Hidden away not poured out, but developing depth all the while. I'd suggest that we are still metaphorically 'within the barrel' at this moment. If you have realised you 'bottled the goods' before their time, empty out the sour wine and go back to the barrel. There are also ministries where it's time has come to and end but you are trying to pull it forwards into the future. To you the Lord say's it's ok to let it go, it isn't giving up but making room for the new, and letting go completely has more faith in it than providing life support for something I am not breathing new life over. That's all I say on this subject for now.

* The third facet of the 'sour grape' really connects with the first, but is in the area of personal attitudes. Generally referring to negativity, resentment and belittling of something that you want but have not obtained. Maybe the most common example of this I see is the belittling of those who have success in an area that person hoped they would. But the Lord is referring beyond the literal meaning of sour grapes, to attitudes in general. We need a real attitude adjustment across the board. All of us. While understandable in the pressure cooker environment of the world, we are called to it not of it. If we taste sour and bitter, that is not a wine anyone will be able to drink to say "Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!" (Psalm 34:8). We may think our attitudes are in fine stead, but look again for anywhere there's hopelessness, discouragement, frustration, impatience, confusion, disgust, lack of empathy, sarcasm or cynicism, mockery, stubbornness, arrogance, being unteachable, entitled... you get the idea. Let's just say if the body of Christ are having a hard time with the sour grapes of one another currently, then what do we think the response of the world would be? Placing a fancy label on the bottle and an expensive price tag will not change the flavour, it will only be considered deceptive.

Isaiah 18:5 "For before the harvest, when the season of budding is over, and sour grapes ripen into mature grapes, he cuts off the shoots with pruning knives, clearing away the spreading branches as he lops them off". Notice that, before the harvest and the grapes are mature, he (the Lord) does some major pruning work. Vines produce their fruit, grapes, on new (one year old) wood shoots. But older wood produces mainly only leaves and shoots. Pruning 70-90% of old wood from the previous year maximises one year old wood growth and nutrients for grape development. We are not in an ordinary corporate upkeep pruning season, but rather a heavy pruning of a lot of dead wood for the coming harvest. What we don't allow to be cut away, even where its green and life producing, won't be conducive for overall health of the vine, and grape development.

Lord, we give ourselves to your vine. To be fully matured and pruned by your tender, loving and righteous hands. Remove our old wood places we are still holding on to. Ripen us to full body flavour, rich and deep. Mature, ready for harvest. That there would be nothing in us that would sour your new wine oh Holy Spirit.

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