A study to accompany the message by Frank Damazio

Introduction

Opportunities - every one of us has them. Opportunities to build our lives, to better ourselves, and to serve God in a greater capacity. It is up to us to seize the opportunities that come our way!  Here are examples of four levels of opportunities that we may come across throughout the course of our lives: 
Low-level opportunities: These are everyday opportunities to meet someone, go somewhere, do something and these are not necessarily life changing opportunities. Example, like deciding to eat at a restaurant.
Mid-level opportunities: These can have the potential to change our life and our lifestyle. Example, like choosing a career direction or relationships we develop, and they are weightier opportunities than the low-level opportunities.
High-level opportunities: These opportunities are ones that we encounter a few times in our lifetime and can represents one-time opportunities that may not come back again. Examples include finding a spouse, stepping into a business opportunity, doing a church plant or missions, studying in a secular or bible college, a change in job that potentially opens the door to change the rest of your life. 
God opportunities:  These are opportunities that God specifically puts our way and they are different to human opportunities as they are designed to serve a higher purpose in our lives.
Isaiah 55: 8, 9 - 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God opportunities are the ones where we will need to rise up and come up higher and see the opportunity that is available to us above the crisis, problems and challenges that we face. When we take advantage of these God opportunities, they will help us come up higher in our life and ministry.

Closer look at God Opportunities
The word “opportunity” in the English dictionary comes from the Latin word “opportune” which could be used to describe ships coming to port but having to wait in the harbour for the precise, perfect moment when time and tide converge to make it safely to port. There was a “window of opportunity” when it was safe to come into port and if this opportunity was missed, the ship would have to stay out another night. God opportunities come to those who recognise them as such and seize it and respond accordingly. These God opportunities often are available for a brief while and hence can be missed.

James Wallace said that “Opportunities come to pass not to pause”.

The Holy Spirit likewise can bring us to a precise time and place to move us into a particular divine opportunity in our lives. We are not to focus on the darkness, challenges, problems, limitations and past issues. Instead, we are to step forward in the “now” moment to reach out and seize the God opportunity without missing it!

‘The tight place will become the right place and the tight place will become the God place’ – Frank

A personal testimony of Frank Damazio was how a decision to pause and pursue a small opportunity to study for 4 months at Portland Bible College while passing through for a camp meeting set him up for a destiny for his entire life. The 4 months opportunity to stay turned into a lifetime decision as Frank ended up studying in that college, graduating from there, teaching and pastoring there, meeting his wife, raising kids and eventually becoming the main Pastor of that church and President of that college years down the road!

An example is the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis when he was sold by his brothers and is thrown into the pit. From there he goes to Potiphar’s house and is wrongly charged and ends up in prison. It takes 20 years of trials before Joseph eventually becomes the Prime Minister of Egypt and is able to save his family from severe famine. Joseph forgives his brothers and reassures them in Genesis 50:20 when he declares, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Like Joseph, all dreams have costs, challenges, pits and trials and God uses the trials of our life as God opportunities to shape us and shift us into the higher place He has for us.

We should not get discouraged when we see challenges and trials but instead embrace the opportunity and step up in faith. Abraham had to step up in faith and prepare to sacrifice his son Isaac knowing that God will provide. When we step up, God steps in and He shapes our future. God may interrupt our plan and navigate us to a place where we need to step up to learn to trust Him in the tight place whether it is sickness, lack, confrontation, disloyalty, loss etc. He wants us to contend for the supernatural and miracles and see the divine intervention of God take us higher, better and bigger! When we step up and God steps in, we step into something that is exceeding anything before – into a new place, a divine opportunity, a pivotal prophetic moment, and a divine tipping point in our life!

Doors of Opportunity

1. Doors of opportunity … change people’s destiny 
Read: Acts 14:26-27 ’26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. (NIV)

Bible thought: Paul and his companions had an incredible door of opportunity to be able to witness to the Gentiles. They made the most of every opportunity to preach, teach and demonstrate the power of God and the results are still seen 2,000 years later. People’s destiny was changed forever and through the gospel spreading throughout the Gentile nations it has reached us today.

This was a pivotal point in history that changed people’s destiny. Similarly, when you go through open doors of opportunity, God will place you in a position to change people’s lives and destinies.

2. Doors of opportunity … have new opposition 
Read: 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me. (NIV)

Bible thought: Paul also refers to an open ‘door’ for ministry opportunities in 2 Corinthians 2:12. In Colossians 4:3 Paul prays that God will open doors for the gospel to be preached. Paul always submitted himself to the will of God. He had an understanding that every door of opportunity was a God opportunity and he understood his response was to be one of obedience, despite any opposition he may face. Acts 19: 23 – 41 provides further backdrop and details of the opposition and adversaries that Paul met with when he was ministering to the Ephesians.

New doors of opportunity bring new oppositions and new adversaries. ‘Every level has a new devil’. Every time we step up, we can face new opposition. The devil is active when opportunities are present in our life and we will feel the pressure and oppression in our mind and emotions. The key is to understand that you are on the right track and press on through the door of opportunity just like Paul did to see results and achieve the higher purpose of God.

3. Doors of opportunity … open in heartbreak valley 
Read: Hosea 2:15 15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. (NIV).

Bible thought:  This text gave the Israelite hope in the middle of their wilderness and heartbreak experience. From Joshua chapter 7, we know that the Valley of Achor is literally a Valley of “Trouble” and brokenness and was named as such after Joshua discovered that Achan from the tribe of Judah disobeyed God and took the the spoils of Jericho when God had forbidden it and was the reason for their defeat. Here in Hosea, the same valley of trouble is a symbol of better things to come, a door of hope leading to repossession of the Promised Land.

We don’t pray for hardships or brokenness or heartbreak. However, God uses these seasons of heartbreak and tears and disappointment to sow a seed for a miracle and opportunity to move to a door of hope. Sometimes the valleys are of our own making due to our failures, but God shapes us in these experiences and uses our tears and brokenness to create a door of hope and opportunity for us.

Chuck Colson’s life story is a story that illustrates that God opportunities can come out of heartbreak valleys. Chuck Colson was the first in the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate charges and in prison he turned to God and founded Prison fellowship and did amazing ministry for God.  Chuck turned the biggest humiliation in his life to be the greatest turning point in his life. Chuck said, “He chose the experience, but I chose the response”. Hosea’s writing indicates God sometimes brings his people to the wilderness to rediscover who and whose they are. When we visit the wilderness of our souls, we revisit our thoughts, choices, decisions, and we bring this to God and allow God to change and shape us. Our greatest losses, failures and heartbreak create the opportunity for God’s best in our lives when we respond to Him.

4. Doors of opportunity … are hidden in interruptions 
Read: 2 Cor 2:12-13  12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia. (NIV).

Bible thought:  Paul here is explaining to the Corinthians his delay in returning to Corinth beyond the time he had planned. Paul sent his co-worker Titus with “a severe letter” to Corinth and eagerly waited for his return with some indication about the Corinthians' response. Paul had suffered much at Ephesus (2 Cor 1:8) and he wanted to go to Corinth after meeting up with Titus in Troas and then onto Macedonia (2 Cor 1:16). Paul did not want to return to Corinth until he heard Titus' report. Titus had not yet returned as planned to Troas and Paul used the time he had in Troas to minister to the people there as the Lord had opened a door. After this, Paul moved on from Troas to Macedonia by overland route.

None of us like interruptions as we want to do what we set out to do. Things don’t always go to plan and often there are opportunities hidden in interruptions. C.S. Lewis said this, “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day.” We need to not let the interruptions frustrate us but instead look for the God opportunities in these moments.

5. Doors of opportunity … missed 
Read: Luke 19:41-42 41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes (NIV)

Bible thought: Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem as he has foreknowledge of her impending destruction due to her unfaithfulness and rejection of him as Messiah. Paul also felt grief over Israel’s defiance in Romans 9:1-5. This was one of the biggest missed opportunities for Israel and for Jerusalem.

God can still work and redeem our situation even if we miss an opportunity. God is merciful and gives us second chances and new beginnings. He is able to bring the right opportunity back to us and He can work together all situations for our good as we continue to follow Him faithfully.

Conclusion
God has opportunities for us – for us as individuals, for our families, for our business, careers and for our church! When we step up seize the opportunities that God has for us, He can open more doors  for us and others around us. Let us catch the God opportunities that God has for us and let God move us to the next level in our journey with Him. It is time to go higher and believe that the best is yet to come!

Questions for Reflection
1. What are God opportunities? Discuss the term “window of opportunity”. How can you position yourself spiritually so that you do not miss the God opportunities in your life?
2. What are some defining moments in your life? 
a. What part did God play in orchestrating the specific circumstances in the defining moments of your life? 
b. Reflect on any co-relation you can draw from the lives of great men of faith like Abraham and Joseph.
3. From Acts 14:26-27, we see how Paul had the opportunity to open the door of faith to the Gentiles. 
a. Discuss an opportunity that God gave you to change the destiny and impact the life of another person. 
b. Reflect and share on how you recognised the God opportunity in this situation and how you stepped into it.
4. We face opposition, heartbreak and interruptions as we go through life’s journeys. How have these events shaped you and helped you step up and into God opportunities? 
5. What are some of the wrong mindsets we can have when we miss God opportunities? What shifts can we make to have the right mindset and step into God opportunities that are ahead of us? 
Spend some time in prayer thanking God for the God opportunities in your life and asking God for courage and wisdom to step into God opportunities in our journey ahead.

Join Kim Hammond and Julz Ham in this week's The Conversation as they discuss God's timing and seeing the God opportunities in life. Watch the full episode here.
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