40 Days of Prayer – Reawakening to the Spirit of Christ

Bob Brannon, DPhil   -  

Like every good father, God loves to give good gifts to his children (James 1:17). He loves you and by nature wants to fill your life with good and perfect gifts. One of the most precious gifts he has given his children is the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The fact is, Chuck Swindoll writes, many Christians have never really understood [the Holy Spirit] well at all, and that lack of understanding is reflected in our awkward attempts to relate to Him. At best, we might say that our relationship is an uncomfortable one. We’re not sure what to say or feel or how to act around Him, so we often ignore Him as if He were an uninvited member of the Trinity (Flying Closer to the Flame Bible Study Guide, p 1).

The Holy Spirit is a vital part of our Christian life and experience, just as he was for Jesus. Think about this.

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit – Luke 1:35

anointed by the Spirit – Luke 3:21-22

led by the Spirit – Luke 4:14

empowered by the Spirit – Luke 4:1

taught in the power of the Holy Spirit – John 3:34; Acts1:1, 2

performed miracles by the Spirit – Matthew 12:28

…offered himself to God as a sacrifice through the Spirit – Hebrews 9:14

…and was resurrected by the Spirit – Romans 1:4

If the Son of God lived in complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit, how much more do we as his followers?

The simple fact is, we are entirely dependent upon the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life and to accomplish anything in service of God. To help us understand this we’re going to look at a passage in John 15.


To probe the meaning of Jesus’ teaching here, we’re going to ask several key questions about the text. First, let’s identify the various characters in this story.

Vine: I am the true vine, Jesus said. (1a)

Gardener: my Father is the gardener (1b)

Branches: you are the branches, he said to his followers (5a)

What is the purpose of the vineyard? Why is it there? It is not there merely for ornamentation – it is not a flower garden. Why does the vineyard exist? Verse 8 says…this is to my Father’s glory.  The reason the vineyard exists is to bring glory to the Gardener. Glory signifies an opinion, estimate, and hence, the honor resulting from a good opinion. The idea is that the vineyard should lead to a good opinion of the Gardener. He should be exalted, magnified, because of the garden.

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That is why we are here; to exalt Him and lead to a favorable opinion of Him – to make him famous. The reason our church is here is to bring glory to God; to make the Gardener look good.

How is the Gardener glorified?

Well, look again at verse 8, that you bear much fruit. The Gardener is glorified when there is “much fruit.” God is not glorified by our bumper stickers, our big buildings, or our busy calendars. He is glorified by our fruit! My wife Teresa and I miss the fruit trees we had in our yard in Wisconsin. We had two plum trees, two pear trees, two peach trees, and a cherry tree.  In the spring each year, the trees burst open beautiful blossoms.  But that wasn’t their ultimate purpose. My neighbors weren’t impressed with the blossoms. They were blown away by how much fruit they bore. My friend, the reason you are here is to bear much fruit for the glory of God.

What does the fruit look like?

Perhaps we should ask the question this way. What does the person look like who is bearing much fruit? Fruit is the public testimony of a believer’s dependence and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. In a word – transformation. Specifically, the presence of nine virtues. The Bible says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

To be clear, these nine virtues are not goals to pursue. They are byproducts of remaining in the Spirit.

The real test of fruit comes during times of stress or trouble. That’s when our true “colors” come through. I confess that in my nature I don’t love those who don’t love me in return. I am not joyful in painful circumstances. I don’t have peace or patience when my goals are thwarted or people irritate me. My instinct is to retaliate when someone treats me unkindly, instead of being kind in return. I am not naturally good or gentle toward people who have intentionally wronged me. I struggle with faithfulness and self-control when people are unfaithful to me or when I am tempted.

I believe fruit here can also refer to the fruit of the harvest, winning souls for Jesus. People who are dependent on the Spirit are conformed to the image of Christ and carry out the commission of Christ. We are here in the vineyard to bear fruit so that the Gardener will receive glory, honor and praise!

How is the fruit produced?

This is a big question, the vitally important question. How do we see the fruit of righteousness and reproduction in our personal lives? How do you and I live in such a way as to bear fruit that will bring glory to God?

My friend, there is only one way; it is through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. That is how we bear fruit. Jesus couldn’t have been clearer. It is crystal clear. The vine is the source of life & the agent that produces the fruit.

The vine produces the fruit.

Notice verse 4, no branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. It is the VINE that produces that fruit.

Without the vine there can be NO fruit.

The role of the vine is to produce the life flow that produces the fruit. It is through the vine that the nutrients are transmitted to the branches to produce the fruit. You might say the Spirit is the sap that runs through the vine into the branches.

The branches bear the fruit.

It is the role of the branch to bear the fruit, not to produce it. Six times he uses the phrase, bear fruit to refer to the role of the branch.

It is impossible for a branch to bear fruit without sharing in the life of the vine. It cannot happen. Jesus makes this abundantly clear, Apart from me you can do nothing (5b). Not just a little, or some – NONE, NO FRUIT, NOTHING! Without the vine, we are firewood! (6). But when connected to the vine, we can bear much fruit for the glory of God.

Does this mean we have no role to play – just hang out and wait for the fruit to appear?

For the life force to flow in and thru the branch producing the all-important fruit, the branch must remain in the vine. We have to abide in Christ. To remain/ abide in Christ is to maintain a vital union with Him. In fact, that is exactly how the Amplified New Testament renders it, Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in [vitally united to] the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me (4b).

The branch doesn’t just make periodic connections to the vine to get a shot of sap. Abiding is not like a “fill up” at the gas station, then running until empty again. It is not a “blast of wind” in our sails. It is not even like using your cordless drill or mixer, relying on the battery until it runs low and then recharging it. It is maintaining continual unbroken union with the Spirit of God. It is moment by moment submitting to His control and depending on His power. When the branch remains in the vine, Jesus said, it will bear much fruit (5)!


Charles Stanley writes: For too many believers the Christian life boils down to simply doing the best they can. There is no dynamic, no power, and there is no real distinctive that can be attributed to anything other than discipline and determination. I meet believers all the time whose doctrine can be summed up in two statements: 1) Nobody’s perfect, and 2) God understands (The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, p. 3).

Does that resonate at all with you? My friends, the Christian life doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to settle for ongoing defeat and discontentment. There is more – so much more – than simply going through the motions.

Here’s the bottom line. God is looking for more than our best, far more. He is looking for fruit that will last. He calls us to exhibit his character and carry out his commission. If that sounds hard, I have some good news for you. If you don’t know this already, I hope you’ll find it very liberating.

The Christian life is not simply difficult. It is impossible.

You can’t live it and neither can I. Jesus knew that. That’s why he sent the Holy Spirit, to fill us and empower us to be transformed and bear much fruit for the glory of God.

Think about how the Spirit’s power changed the early disciples. The Holy Spirit transformed them from a gang of frightened (John 14:27), intimidated (Matt 26:56/ John 20:19), troubled (John 14:1) men, hiding after Christ’s crucifixion, into a courageous band of bold witnesses willing to lay down their lives for Christ (Acts 2:23; 36; 4:8-13) – which many of them did.

Ephesians 5:18 says, do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is a very clear command given to believers. Don’t be under the influence of alcohol. Be controlled by the Holy Spirit. It could literally be translated, be, being filled with the Spirit. It is continuous, ongoing, action; daily, moment by moment, surrender to and dependence upon the Spirit.

When the Spirit is in complete control of us; when he lives Christ’s life through us, we bear much fruit for God’s glory.

Jesus never intended for you to live the Christian life in your own power. He doesn’t expect you to share his love with your neighbors in your own strength. He promised to come to you, to empower you with his indwelling Spirit to bear fruit for God’s glory.

How do we experience the filling of the Holy Spirit?

Submission – Being filled with the Spirit is submitting to the control of the Holy Spirit. Surrendering your life fully to Him.

If you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit resides in you. You are a temple of the Spirit. But that’s different from being filled with the Spirit that Paul speaks of here. It’s like having a guest in your home, but he is hidden away in some back room or closet somewhere. You don’t even know he is there. Being filled with the Spirit is when you bring him out of the back room into the main living room, family, dining room. His presence cannot be missed, because he has the run of the house.

Another way to think of it is like driving. If you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit is in the car with you, but he is in the back seat or the front passenger seat. You’re the driver, deciding where and when to go. Being filled with the Spirit is intentionally inviting the Holy Spirit to take the wheel.

Dependence – Being filled with the Spirit is depending on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Go back to Jesus’ description of the vine and branches. He couldn’t have been clearer about our powerlessness to produce anything for the glory of God without the indwelling power of the Spirit. And what about the experience of the first disciples? They were powerless to advance the gospel to the ends of the earth without the dynamic indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit means being empowered to live in a way that glorifies God (love, joy, peace…). Our dependence on the Spirit is in direct proportion to our prayer life. That’s why prayer is our first work. It marks our dependence on the Spirit of God.

If you are a follower of Christ, you have the Holy Spirit. The question is, does the Holy Spirit have you? Will you surrender to him and declare your dependence on him right now?

Blog post adapted from the message by the same name delivered on Sunday, January 9, 2022.