If you’re not familiar with the reality TV show, Duck Dynasty, it’s a pretty amazing story about how a family from Louisiana became wealthy through an invention for the duck call. Phil Robertson, the original “Duck Commander,” probably never dreamed in all his years that he would be a millionaire and then have his family story become one of the most popular reality TV shows in history! He was a back-up quarterback in college to Terry Bradshaw, turned down a nice NFL offer in order to make his duck calls. This past Sunday, thousands of people flocked to Trader’s Point CC on the Northwest side of town to hear his son, Willie Robertson, give his testimony. Well, we don’t have Willie with us this morning, but we do have his long-lost brother, whom I think could be a back-up character on the show.
What’s truly amazing about this family is that their fame came from something as small as a duck call used by thousands and thousands of duck hunters around the world. Through hard work, creativity, and faith, this family has weathered many a storm and seen God do some pretty amazing things in their lives.
As we continue our series from the Gospel of Mark, we see Jesus do something incredibly amazing with some pretty ordinary, small, and normal things. We read about it in Mark 6:30-44, so if you have your Bibles or a Bible app, go ahead and turn there with me if you would. So far in our series from what we’ve been calling the (re)Discovery Channel, we’ve taken a look at Mythbusters, Hoarders, Dirty Jobs, Ice Road Truckers, Survivorman, and today, Duck Dynasty. We’ve been using each reality TV show as a springboard to lead into our study and application of Mark’s Gospel. So, if you would, let’s all stand together out of respect for the reading of God’s Word.
You may be seated. There are times in life when, just like Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty discovered, God can do some pretty amazing things. And he can do those things in the ordinary moments of life when we’re least expecting it! But part of the problem is that we have Amazement Amnesia. And we all do at times! Something amazing happens in your life—you got married, you had a child, you got a promotion, and on and on I could go—and you are so amazed! But then you back out of your driveway and hit the neighbor’s car. Or you go to withdraw money out of the ATM, and a message comes up saying, “Insufficient Funds.” And then all of a sudden, you go from this attitude of gratitude to Amazement Amnesia in the flip of a switch!
Now, the reality of life is that we’re not always going to be up on the mountaintop. We talked about that last week. Most of life is lived on level ground. But somehow in the midst of the mundane, we need to recapture a heart that is open to amazement. We need to live our lives with the expectancy that God can take the little that we have and do something amazing. When was the last time you really expected God to do something in your life?
Well, in our text in Mark 6, we see how to Recapture the wonder to be amazed by God. And in this, for some us, we see how to reconnect with the heart of Jesus, and, for others, how to have expectations of what God is going to do in your life. Let’s look at it.
1. God often works in desolate places (Mark 6:30-32)
Remember that this is right after John, Jesus’ cousin, is beheaded. This is not a “Yay, God!” time. This is a pretty down time, and Jesus encourages the disciples to come away to a desolate place where they could rest (v. 31). So they go away in a boat to a desolate place by themselves (v. 32).
Southwest Airlines used to have those commercials that would say, “Need to get away?” Sometimes you just need to get away. We’re not always going to be in the fast lane, and if you try to live your life that way, you will eventually run out of gas. Even the cars in the Indy 500 can’t make the 500 miles without making pit stops.
But here’s where we tend to miss what I call, “God moments.” We tend only to look for God in the excitement. Yes, Jesus feeds the 5,000—and we’ll get there—but the story starts with the disciples going to a desolate place to rest. The movement of God in your life may accelerate on the mountaintops, but it often starts in the valley.
We see this all throughout the Bible! God speaks to Moses in a desert. God leads his people through a desolate desert. David experienced the amazing power of God when he defeated Goliath, but God trained David in the desolate hillsides of Southern Judea. Elijah the prophet sees God do an amazing thing when fire came down to consume his sacrifice, but Elijah experienced the closeness of God when he was standing alone outside a desolate cave.
What are the desolate places of your life right now? Rather than being in such a hurry to get out of them, what if God is wanting to keep you there for a season, because He wants to begin a work in you starting right there? Don’t worry, the demands of life will be there soon enough. Just as they were for Jesus and the disciples. But take note that God often works in desolate places. To recapture the wonder to be amazed by God, we also need to…
2. Develop a heart of expectancy (Mark 6:33-37)
Sure enough the crowds of people found out where Jesus and the disciples were going, and they ran on ahead of them. For the longest time, I had a hard time picturing this until I went over to Israel a visited about 6 or 7 years ago. I would look at maps in the back of my Bible and the Sea of Galilee looked pretty big. So how could people run ahead of Jesus and the disciples who were in a boat? But when I got there I saw that the Sea of Galilee is actually like a big lake, and if Jesus and His disciples got in a boat and were heading up the shore to some desolate spot, people would see them, and recognizing them, as Mark’s Gospel puts it, they could have gathered right where Jesus and His disciples were pulling ashore.
Even though they were supposed to rest—as Jesus instructed (v. 31)—the people are there, and Jesus had compassion on them and starts to teach them.
Now, remember back in v. 31 how Mark records that the disciples didn’t even have time to eat? Well, that hadn’t changed any, and so the disciples point out the lateness of the hour, and ask Jesus to send the people away, so they can go into the villages to buy themselves something to eat.
And here’s where it gets interesting! The disciples weren’t expecting anything. They had no expectation that Jesus was about to do something amazing. Oddly, to them, Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” The disciples point out the cost to buy that amount of food—which in today’s American economy would have been somewhere close to $20,000!
The disciples had in their very presence the Giver of Life, the Bread of Life, the One who raised the dead and made the blind see, and they had do expectation that Jesus would do anything.
Now, before I get to hard on the disciples, I have to think about how it is in my life and perhaps in yours. When I have a particularly big obstacle or road block or problem, do I expect God to do anything? Do I…really? I’ll be honest with you, most of the time I tend to think secularly rather than spiritually. I try to work through those obstacles or road blocks or solve those problems just through natural means rather than having any sense that this just might be an opportunity for God to do something amazing. God often works in the desolate places. Develop a heart of expectancy, and notice what happens next in the story.
3. God combines the natural with His super-natural to do amazing things (Mark 6:38-44)
This isn’t like the Gnostics of the first-century who believed the natural or physical was bad. God doesn’t devalue the natural; He combines it with His super-natural to do amazing things.
Jesus asks, “How many loaves do you have?” in v. 38. Notice the order of Jesus’ comments: “You give them something to eat” (v. 37). And what seems to be impossible to humanity becomes possible with God. “We don’t have the resources to buy all this food!” Have you ever noticed that so much of our lives is dependent—we think—on what we don’t have than what we do have?? In the face of the disciples’ doubts, Jesus just says, “Well, then, what DO you have?”
What resources do you have? Don’t focus on what you don’t have—because God doing amazing things isn’t dependent on what we don’t have. God joins His power with what we DO have. The disciples come back and tell Jesus that they only have five loaves and two fish. Jesus has all the people sit down in groups, by hundreds and fifties. He gives a blessing, breaks the loaves, divides the fish, and starts handing out the food…and handing out the food…and handing out the food, until—v. 42—“all ate and were satisfied.” And there were twelve baskets full of leftovers. There was far more left over than what Jesus started with!
Think about your life, your marriage, your dreams, your goals, your aspirations. Are you hindered because you’re looking at what you don’t have? All Jesus asks is, “What do you have?” And He combines what we have with what we don’t have—His power—and He does amazing things!
Phil Robertson, Duck Commander, didn’t have much. He had a dream, hard work, and perseverance, and, according to Phil Robertson, God combined it with His work to do amazing things.
What do you have that when combined with what Jesus has can result in amazing things?
Remember: God often works in the desolate places of our lives, where we can develop a heart of expectancy, to see Him do amazing things with what we have. Imagine what it would be like for God to take whatever you do have and join with that to do amazing things in and through you! When you walk out of here today, I challenge you to see how God can move in your life if you’re in a desolate place right now. I challenge you to develop a heart of expectancy—that God can do amazing things in your marriage, your life, and through you for the good of His Kingdom. And I challenge you to take stock of what you do have and then ask Jesus to take what you have and combine it with what you don’t have—His power—to do amazing things. Let’s pray.