Icebreaker – favorite movie, survey church background
Introduce myself. Graduation, family, college ministry, missions.
I am so thankful that each of you can come and attend our historic first Bible study here at USC Health Campus and I am excited to see what God has in store for us here as we experience Him together.
What are some sayings that you grew up with, that you heard from parents, or siblings, teachers, friends, society?
1) Look out for #1
2) Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you
3) Be careful who you trust
4) Gandhi – be the change that you want to see in others
5) Lance Armstrong – “I take nothing for granted. I now have only good days, or great days.”
6) Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard
them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will
become the brightest gems in a useful life. ”
7) Unknown source – Be nice to your enemies – it will drive them crazy.
8) “The opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference” –Elie Wiesel
I want to talk today about life mottos. A good motto will motivate a single person to do great things. But what one person considers a valid motto for life may not apply to the next person.
Motto of my parents – education is everything so STUDY. And their motto to me was Ray, you are our hope. Eldest son in entire clan. Pressure – don’t let down the clan.
But my parents were not the type to puff up their children with lofty goals and then leave it to us to figure out how we are going to become that hope of the family. Instead, their strategy was to remind me every day that I am nowhere near fulfilling that dream so you better hit the books.
I have to admire them because like many Asian parents, they poured everything to their children and gave me every chance to succeed. And I have to thank them because I am lazy by nature and if it was up to me, I’d probably have been a high school drop out because instead of studying, I would have hung out with friends.
My father is a professor and I have nothing against professors (esp. since we have one in the audience), but I must say, professors have too much free time. And his free time translated to the elimination of my free time. I didn’t grow up with Kumon – I had, RAYMON, it’s time for your personal calculus teaching session.
By the time I was freshman at UC Berkeley in 1992, I was burnt out from too much studying. Finally, it was play time. I was free. I attended frat parties, I drank, I smoke, I dated (don’t tell my wife), I gambled, and for sure, I didn’t study. I had put my hope in having fun, in friends, and most of all, in myself. I didn’t need anything except a few close friends to bum around together with.
After a year of this and some break-ups with friends, I was left tired, alone and disillusioned. Then, through Bible study group like this on the Berkeley campus, God began to pursue me. I attended church my whole life, but church was just something I did on Sundays out of habit because my parents dragged me there.
A year later, I surrendered my life to God as my personal Savior and Lord and my life has never been the same again.
That’s why I am here, that’s why all of us are here. Many of us older ones became Christians as college students and God gave us a vision to pass on the love that we received to other college students. Abraham jdsn’s couple, matthew’s couple, daniel’s couple, the call of the gospel has taken us to many countries and many college campuses.
And from being a Christian for the past 15 years, God has taught me to place less and less hope in myself and more and more hope in Him.
In the beginning, we talked about life mottos. The Bible also has a few mottos or trustworthy sayings and I want to explore briefly two of them from 1 Timothy.
1 Timothy 3:1-7
1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
So overseer or bishop or in modern day language, a spiritual leader or mentor, Paul says this is a noble task. To live for the spiritual benefit of others is a noble thing. But we all have different gifts, different callings, different things that we consider noble that we are pursuing.
Paul knew that some would raise an exception to his trustworthy statement. To be an overseer is not for me. Thus, Paul interestingly uses similar wording 2 other times in the book of 1 Timothy, but he adds a modifying phrase which connotes a wider reach.
The first one is —
1 Timothy 1:12-17
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves FULL acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
A trustworthy saying that deserves FULL acceptance.
And he uses this exact phrase a second time —
1 Timothy 4
9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.
Full acceptance – not partial acceptance, not optional, no exceptions.
It applies to every human who lived before us and everyone after us. Full acceptance.
What’s the connection? First, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and Paul adds, of whom I am the worst. Second, we have put our hope in the living God, Jesus, who is the Savior of all men.
This is the gospel message. This is essential for all of us, everyone.
If you have been to church, you have heard that we are all sinners and that sin separated us from God. And because of this sin, God sent His Son to die on a cross so that those who accept Jesus as their personal Savior and surrender their lives to him and make him Lord of their lives are forgiven and reconciled to God.
This is the gospel. This is Paul’s first trustworthy saying.
And the second trustworthy saying follows, those who recognize their sin naturally, as a consequence, have put their hope in Jesus.
To say that you are a sinner is at bottom to admit that I am hopeless, and therefore, admitting that I need Jesus in my life.
Christianity is different from every other religion because of its view of human nature. Other religions teach that humankind can improve and eventually reach god or a god-like state. Christianity is the only religion that says because you are hopeless and even after a million years you won’t be even an inch closer to reaching God. That is why God has to come down to us. That is why God sent His Son to dwell with us and to eventually die on the cross.
We are not here to learn about God like he is like some anatomy class. It is not about head knowledge. Rather, we are here because we confess that without Jesus, our lives would be in shambles. That we’d be lost and directionless, frustrated, anxious, blind, dead.
In Jesus, we are found, given purpose, meaning, peace, rest, spiritual sight, we are born again. And we begin to really live.
And to those who confess we are sinners and we are forgiven by His blood shed for us on the cross, Jesus becomes our hope. He becomes our everything. I pray that together we can cultivate our need for God and proclaim him as the only hope not only for us but for the world.