How to Have a Happy New Year: Expectation + Opportunity

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(Courtesy of Richmond Community Church)Pastor Rick McDaniel

Today is the first day of 2017. We have an entire year ahead with limitless possibilities. And it is definitely limitless. The reality is there is a whole new year of opportunities for everyone.

I believe life is full of opportunities. What new opportunities might come your way in this new year?

Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us, "Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity."

Opportunities are what will make your year: recognizing opportunities and responding to them, seeing opportunities and seizing them.

But can you make the most of each opportunity that comes your way? Begin by expecting to have opportunities.

Live this year expecting that opportunities will come your way. Don't be surprised by opportunities — be expecting them.

When you have an expectation you're looking for something. Many people miss opportunities because they're not looking for them.

Every day expect that might be the day God brings you an opportunity. A part of expecting opportunities is preparation. The classic definition of success is when preparation meets opportunity. So you have to be prepared for the opportunity. Opportunities can appear without any advance warning. They may just appear. But you have to be expecting they will appear.

The Neiman-Marcus catalog that comes out every Christmas is very famous because they feature extravagant super expensive his and her gifts. The reason for these gifts is one day Walter Cronkite called Stanley Marcus and asked him if any wealthy customers had purchased something unusual. In that phone call Stanley Marcus had the opportunity to create an unusual gift so he ended up putting in his catalog his and her airplanes. It's unlikely anyone would buy his and her airplanes but it sure did bring a lot of press. Neiman-Marcus got an enormous amount of free publicity and didn't pay a cent for advertising. They are still famous for those catalogs to this day.

Opportunities are rarely labeled; you have to be looking for them. When one person has an opportunity and another person doesn't, some call it luck. But it isn't luck. Rather, one person was looking for opportunities. Are you looking for what others may not be looking for, or what other people have overlooked? It is remarkable how people have marvelous ideas that turn out to be so successful and then once it happens other people say, "Well, I could have thought of that." Yet, they didn't.

If you go through this year expecting opportunities to come your way and you're looking for them, it's amazing what you might discover. This is how people have careers, relationships and adventures they never would have had if they weren't expecting an opportunity and looking for them.

It's not a matter of just seeing an opportunity, it's also seizing that opportunity. Can you seize an opportunity? There is a window of opportunity it opens and it closes. You have to be decisive. When the window opens, you've got to seize that opportunity because it won't last forever. There is a moment, there is a time when you can select, when you can act and if you don't, the opportunity will be missed.

Almost thirteen years ago a student at Harvard invited five people over to his dorm room to discuss a business opportunity that would become Facebook. Only two of the five showed up. Today those two people are billionaires: Dustin Moskovitz ($9.9 billion) and Eduardo Saverin ($5.8 billion.) The guy they met that night, Mark Zuckerberg, has a current net worth of $35.7 billion. There is nothing more expensive than a missed opportunity.

When you have an opportunity this year will you act?

Lee Iacocca once said, "Even the right decision is the wrong decision if it's made too late."

When the window of opportunity opens this year that will be the time to act. When you have the right timing and you combine it with the right activity you have success. You've got to have the confidence to seize that opportunity.

Jesus taught in the parable of the talents (Mathew 25) that an opportunity seized leads to another opportunity. God blesses you with more opportunities when you act on the one he sent. You seize an opportunity and it opens up more opportunities. And that is how to have a happy new year.

Years ago Charles Goodyear accidentally dropped some rubber he had mixed with sulfur onto a hot stove and strangely the rubber mixed with the sulfur didn't melt. It actually hardened. And through that accidental discovery he developed the process called vulcanization, which is how tires and lots of other rubber products are made. Acting on this opportunity led to many others, and the Goodyear company went on to have great success that continues today.

If you make the most of your opportunities this year, you will have a happy year and fulfill God's plan for your life. It will not be a perfect year. It will not be without failures and mistakes. But it will be a year you will know you took full advantage of the opportunities God brought your way.

Rick McDaniel is the senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, VA and highimpactchurch.tv. He is the speaker on the High Impact Living broadcast and the author of 5 Habits of Happy People. @rickmcdaniel