Two men were admiring Niagara Falls when one of them, a local, pointed to the water flowing down and said, "That is the greatest unused power in the universe." The other man, who was a believer, turned to him and said, "No, it's not. The Holy Spirit of God is the greatest unused power in the universe."

He hit on the fact that God, through the Holy Spirit, wants to give us His power to live the Christian life, to love and serve others, but we so often don't tap into it. The Holy Spirit was given not so that you could splash around in your own little swimming pool of living water (see John 7:37-39), but so that you could get that living water to other people. One way that happens is through spiritual gifts.

Spiritual gifts are spiritual capacities, endowments, or capabilities. There are about eighteen to twenty-two different spiritual gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-12), and the Holy Spirit may gift you with any combination of them. In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul shared a few principles about them:

1. Gifts are given, not earned. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one" (v. 7). In the body of Christ, the Holy Spirit is like the nervous system conveying to each member what their role is. Some people really want to fulfill a certain role in ministry, but if they're not gifted by God to do it, they are destined for spiritual frustration and failure. That means you need to operate in and enjoy whatever spiritual gift God has given you.

2. Gifts are not the goal; they're just the gateway to the real goal: edification. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" (v. 7). With the exception of the gift of tongues (see 1 Corinthians 14:4), spiritual gifts are given for the edification of the body.

3. Gifts are available to all believers. But there are a lot of believers whose gifts lay dormant because they're not being filled with the Spirit. So how do you get filled with the Spirit? You ask Him (see Luke 11:13). Then you step out in faith, believing that He's answered you because it's according to His will that you asked (see 1 John 5:14).

Now, I find that every time I'm filled with the Spirit, I leak, which means I have to pray that God would fill me with His Spirit every single day. It's my hope that you'll be thirsty for that and that God will open up new avenues to do a deeper, more wonderful work not just in your life but through your life, through the gifts He has specifically given you for the edification of the church.

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