WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
by Eric Elder
Note from Eric: I spoke this week at our church’s Care Groups and thought you’d enjoy the message. You can listen to it at the link below, or read the transcript that follows. I’d especially encourage you to watch the movie I recommend in the message called “Sing Over Me,” which you can watch online for free this week only at www.singovermemovie.com. I can’t recommend it highly enough! Click the link below to listen to today’s message or read the transcript that follows.
Good evening. My name’s Eric Elder and tonight we’re going to ask the question, “Who do you think you are?” I’d also like to highlight two movies for you this week. One you can watch online, right now, for free for just one more week, and the other is a movie from 1995 about a high school music teacher. Both of these will help answer the question, “Who do you think you are?” because our perceptions of ourselves don’t always match with reality.
Sometimes people ask, “Who do you think you are?” when talking about someone who thinks they’re better than everyone else. But for a lot of us–most of us really–the question is important because we really think too little of ourselves. We have rough days. We have bad weeks. We have failures in our life. We have disappointments. We aren’t at the place where we thought we’d be. Things didn’t work out quite the way we had planned, and we can sometimes get frustrated and we can get hurt and get confused and just say, “How did I end up here?”
So I want to remind you today what God thinks of you. Because what really matters most is what He thinks of you. He’s the one that created you, so He knows you inside and out, backwards and forwards. I’d like to speak some words over you tonight from Psalm 139. I’ll read to you most of the passage from Psalm 139.
For some of you, you may have heard these words a lot. I want to help you hear them in a fresh way. For some of you, you may have never heard these words before, about what God thinks about you. This is a Psalm of David, who became king, and he was writing to God just how amazing it was that God even considered him or thought of him at all. This is how God thinks of us all. Psalm 139, starting in verse 1, says:
“O LORD, you have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD” (Psalm 139:1-4).
I was over in Peoria yesterday with a guy who has sepsis. He’s recovering, but it’s going to be a really hard road for him. He’s got a breathing tube down his throat and his organs are all failing and they weren’t sure if he was going to make it just a week ago. I was reading this Psalm to him, and he’s not able to get words out. He can only point, and at least this week is starting to be able to write on a board. I thought of that phrase, “Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord.” How amazing? When you can’t even get a word out, God already knows it. He knows what you’re thinking. Even if you don’t get a word out, God still knows it, and that’s a great comfort. Continuing in verse 5:
“You hem me in–behind and before; You have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139: 5-10).
I love that. Some people might not like that, that God will never leave them alone. But the great truth is, He loves you so much that He will never leave you alone. He’s not coming after you with condemnation. He pursues you with love, and He will never leave you alone, even if you settle on the far side of the sea. His hand will guide you. His right hand will hold you fast.
Continuing in verse 11:
“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You. For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with You” (Psalm 139:11-18).
I just love that, too, how God is with you. He walks with you. He knows you. He’s ordained all the days of your life before one of them came to be.
Sometimes you feel like a nobody going nowhere. But the truth is, in God’s eyes, you are a somebody going somewhere.
The first movie I want to tell you about is called “Sing Over Me.” It’s about the life of Dennis Jernigan. Dennis is a singer, songwriter and worship leader, among many other things. He’s also a personal friend of mine. He’s written songs that are sung in churches all over the world, songs like “You Are My All In All” and “We Will Worship the Lamb of Glory.” But he didn’t always have chart-topping songs on his resume. In fact, when he applied to music school in college, he was rejected when the head of the music department said, “We have only a few positions in this department, and we reserve them for people we see potential in. We simply do not see any such potential in you.”
Yet Dennis loved to play the piano and to sing and worship and write songs. He could have given up on life. In fact, he tried to. He tried to take his own life, turning on the gas stove in his room and laying down on the floor to die. But then a drastic thought occurred to him: was he really ready to face death and whatever may or may not be waiting for him afterward? Frightened, he quickly got up and turned off the gas before he was overcome by the fumes.
Soon after, he was at a Christian concert, and when the invitation was given to surrender his life fully to God’s plan for his life, and to reject Satan’s plan of death and destruction, he committed his life to Christ. Overwhelmed that night by God’s love for him, Dennis walked away from years of sexually destructive behavior and self-condemnation, and began a new walk of life, eventually marrying his college sweetheart, having a family of nine kids and writing hundreds of worship songs affecting millions.
Dennis says that the most significant step in his story was realizing his true identity–what God had planned and purposed in his life–and who he was in God’s eyes. His life verse has become one from Zephaniah 3:17. It says that “the Lord rejoices over you with singing.” Dennis was so struck by that, that God loves him so much, that God would even sing over him. And God sings over each one of you. That’s just a crazy thought, not just that you sing to God, but that God rejoices over you and sings over you! That could help you sleep at night, knowing that God is singing over you!
So this movie that they’ve made about Dennis’s life is called, “Sing Over Me,” and you can watch it at www.singovermemovie.com. It’s free online for just one more week. I encourage you to watch it!
The second movie that I want to talk about tonight is one called, “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Maybe you’ve heard about this. Chip Ingram talks about it in this book that we’re studying this fall in Care Groups called “Finding God When You Need Him Most.” Mr. Holland, who’s played by Richard Dreyfus, wanted to write a magnificent symphony. This was his goal in life. Then he got involved in teaching high school music. That was all in the meantime, and he did that for years and years and years, and he never got around to writing his symphony.
At one point the school lost their funding and they had to cut his position. Mr. Holland lost his job. He felt like his life had been wasted, for he had never fulfilled his dreams. But to his surprise, as he was feeling his lowest, his former students gathered to honor him with a tribute. They all came together in a room to surprise him, and one of them had become the governor of the state. She got up to speak, and here’s what she says:
“Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life, on a lot of lives I know. And yet I get the feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous, at least not outside of our little town. It might be easy for him to think himself a failure. And he would be wrong; because I think he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame.” Then she said to him, “Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched. And each one of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony, Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus, and we are the music of your life.”
Chip Ingram adds:
“Not many of us will have such a tribute. But we can learn something from Mr. Holland’s experience. Like him, most of us draw conclusions about ourselves in the dim light of the daily grind. We assume that we don’t matter, don’t make a significant difference; but God says that is not true. Whenever you are inclined to underestimate your value, I urge you to resist that urge. Open the Bible to Psalm 139 and confront your feelings with what God says about you” (Chip Ingram, “Finding God When You Need Him Most,” p. 85).
Who do you think you are? If you ever wonder, read–and reread–Psalm 139 and remember what God thinks about you. Believe it or not, as Zephaniah says, God really does “rejoice over you with singing.”
Father, thank You for this day. Thank You for Your healing and redeeming us and chasing after us. God, I pray that each of us would hear from You in a special way, a unique way; that You would even sing over us, God, in a way that we could hear. Just like Zephaniah 3:17 says, God, that You rejoice over us with singing. Lord, let it be so in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. I do encourage you to watch Dennis Jernigan’s story. The movie is called “Sing Over Me.” It’s brand new and it’s free for this week, through the end of September. Here’s the link to watch:
And here the link to Dennis’ book on Amazon. It’s also called “Sing Over Me,” and goes into even more detail:
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