Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a priest who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. A man that studied the word of God, but a man who was not anointed with the Holy Spirit, who did not have understanding of being "born again". Nicodemus went to visit Jesus in the night so that he would not be seen, to ask Jesus "How can a man be born when he is old?" Jesus answered "I tell you the truth, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit....The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
(John 3:5) "At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was Your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him." (Luke 10:23) "Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Saul asked 'Who are you Lord?' 'I am Jesus, who you are persecuting,' He replied. 'Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.' The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" 'Yes Lord' he answered. The Lord told him, 'Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Taurus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hand on him to restore his sight. "Lord," Ananias answered, 'I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name. But the Lord said to Ananias, GO! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord---Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here---has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' Immediately, something likes scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, 'Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests? Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ." (ACTS 9)The Lord chose Saul and named him Paul. Paul was not one of the 12 disciples, yet he was chosen by the Way, the Light, the Voice of Jesus, and Paul was baptized by the Holy Spirit and given the GOOD GIFT of teaching by the Holy Spirit. A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in the service of God's purposes. So Saul/Paul grew more and more powerful by the Holy Spirit and he was used by God to write many of the books of the bible. "Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God...." wrote to the church of Corinthians "I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way---in all your speaking and in all your knowledge----therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift..." Yet the first church in Corinth was divided, they were abusing their gifts. First Paul thanked them, then in the following 11 chapters of 1 Corinthians, Paul spoke the truth in love and rebukes those slipping away for being infants, for their incest, and for judging one another, for bringing lawsuits against one another, for getting drunk. GOD LOVES US and HE shows us His way. In Chapter 12, Paul tells them to not be confused, or ignorant about spiritual gifts. To remember when they were non-believers how they were led astray, how they were easily influenced, how they worshipped idols, statues, and whatever desire of the flesh they had. He addressed the speaking and interpreting of tongues with this reproof. 'No one can say, "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.' Paul completely surrendered to the Holy Spirit taught them "Now to EACH ONE (everyone) the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." ---"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit."....The body of Christ is One body, and many parts. Not one gift is more important than the other. "For we were all baptized by One Spirit into One body." Consider the unseen parts as important as the visible parts. You must agree that the hands of service, and the unseen heart are equally valuable. What good is a hand without a heart? The mind of the teacher, and the unseen heart that prays are parts of the Body of Christ, which work in harmony. Working together, respecting all without division, malice or jealousy." INSIGHTS ON SPIRITUAL GIFTS:
We need understanding. That spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to you, yet not for you. Any ability given and empowered by the Holy Spirit is to be used in service for others. To have a gift and not use it is a sin. We need to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit decides the gifts He gives. "All these are the work of the one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines." (1 Corin 12:11) We need to know what our spiritual gifts are so that we can put them to use to serve others. We are the hands, we are the feet, we are His church, and we were GIFTED to be used with His intention and purpose.
SPIRITUAL GIFTS - FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT:
1) SIGNS - miracles, healings, tongues. There are believers that hold the thought that all signs have ceased until Jesus returns based "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears." (1 Corin 13:10) The Holy Spirit in me interprets that verse to mean when Jesus, the perfect one returns, what we think we know will pass away, all tongues will be stilled, and even the rocks will cry out Jesus is Lord.
2) SPEAKING - Teaching, exhortation, prophesy, song, evangelism etc. Spiritual gifts are outlined in 1 Corin chapter 12; Ephesians 4; and Romans 12. However, like Ananasis, we are not to question the authority of the Holy Spirit, or grieve the Holy Spirit by placing limits to what He chooses to do through us.
3) SERVING - Helps, mercy, leadership, faith, giving, hospitality, administration. Are all apostles? No. Are all prophets? No. Do all have the gift of healing? No. Do all speak in tongues? No. But do people eagerly desire the greater gifts? Yes. Then Paul teaches LOVE! "And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am onlyh a resounding gong or a clanging symbal. If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always prtoects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
(1 Corinthians 13:1-8) LOVE speaks to us always and we must LISTEN for what the SPIRIT is saying. God never fails, Jesus never fails, the Holy Spirit never fails, and God is love, and His love for us never fails --- as He has given us every spiritual GIFT we need to fulfill His purpose, to spread the good news of Jesus.