Dale Spencer - Things God Has Chosen - Pukekohe, New Zealand Convention - Monday Morning, 2004

Sometimes we have our Bible study and we read it over and we have nothing.  What can I say about that chapter?  So we read it over again and I still do not see anything I could say in the chapter.  Maybe you don’t have that chapter?  Sometimes you read it over again and a little thought begins to break through and something begins to dawn.

1 Corinthians Chapter 1:  I had this trouble in that chapter.  I read it over several times and I thought there was nothing in that chapter I could speak about.  Verses 27/28:  "27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are."

Let us take a look at these four categories.  Things that God has chosen talking to His children.  He hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.  God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.  Men have many wise things, but God hath chosen to show his glory in some things the world thinks are foolish and He has many mighty men, but he has chosen the weak things of the world to show forth His power to the world.  He is choosing the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty and the base things of the world and things that are despised.  Those base and despised things God hath chosen.

The last category is and base things of the world and thing which are despised hath God chosen to bring to naught things that are.  What is all that about?  What has God chosen?  I got to thinking about these categories and I thought I could make a list of the categories and I put down on a piece of paper four headings and then under them I started noting some things that would fit each category and I got thinking of some interesting things.  That is what I would like to share with you this morning.  I would like to share with you what God has chosen.  Isn’t that what you would like to do?  I would like to do that.

God hath chosen the foolish things of the world.  24 verse in the chapter.  Very foolish things – not the ideas of men in this first chapter we will take a look at.  The things that were just on my list – but the world by its wisdom knew not God.  It isn’t the wisdom of man that helps us to know God.  Very foolish things – not the idea of man in this first chapter.  We’ll take a look at that:  “21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”  That is a wonderful thing.  God has chosen the foolishness of preaching.  I read that when I was waiting to go into the work.  I thought that was a misprint.  I didn’t think preaching the gospel was foolish and God chose it for His own Son.  I thought that should not be in the Bible.  He calls preaching foolishness!  Preaching the Gospel is foolishness in the eyes of the world, but it is not foolishness.  Preaching the Gospel is power unto salvation unto everyone that believeth.  It is how God speaks to men.  Through the Gospel and through the foolishness of preaching.  God brings the Gospel to our eyes and to our minds. 

I will tell you what opened my eyes about that friends.  I was away from home, out in the work, and it was my first year, the second year after I professed and heard the Gospel and made my choice.  There was this big family reunion at home and everyone was at home except me and I could imagine who was the topic of discussion.  I had gone out on this new venture.  One Auntie rose and said, "We thought Dale would make something and he turned out to be the biggest sap in the whole family."  I think the rest agreed.  It wasn’t very high rating for me.  Foolishness.  Putting my life away and going out like this to preach the Gospel.  It seemed so foolish to my family.

I came to my Dad (he was a car dealer at this time) and told him, "I want to sell my car.  I am going to go out in the Gospel and going like Jesus."  He said, “Son, aren’t you going to be doing some traveling?  You need your car.  It is foolish – sell your car!"  I was proud of myself with my shiny new car.  I had come home from the war and he had been able to get it for me.  I was proud of my car and I was going out to serve God to be a preacher.  I said, "I have to go forth like Jesus and sell all I have.Dad said, "That is foolish.  You will need your car."  I said, "No, I do not know if I will be traveling or not."  I thought he would turn in the grave if he knew I was down here in New Zealand.  How could I have got here without that car?  It looked so foolish to Dad.  He said, "Where are you going to get your donkey?"  He thought if I was going to go like Jesus, I would have to ride a donkey!  It looked foolish to the family, to go and preach the Gospel.  Paul said, it looks foolish to the world.  Not the ministry in the world – they look like honourable men and so on, but the true servants look foolish to the world.  After a few of those experiences, I realized God had chosen the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.  It is the Gospel message that brings salvation and it is the most important work in the world.  I believed it when I started, and I believe it more today.  This is the greatest work in the world – preaching the Gospel – and yet it is so foolish in the eyes of man.

The foolishness of the cross is another thing.  Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow Me."  They said, "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross."  He could have pulled those nail prints away and come down off the cross and the legion of angels come to His rescue.  He could have called the angels of Heaven to come, but He said, “They do not know what they are saying.  Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  The preaching of the cross.  To take up your cross and follow Jesus looks so foolish to the world.  I remember some of my people, classmates, peers, “These things you are doing – why are you doing it?  Are you just going to wander around?  What are you doing in the world?And they thought I would amount to something too!  But to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus – foolish it looks to them.  That is the power of God.  God has chosen the way of the cross it is the hallmark of this service.  In the ideas of men, no, but in the idea of God, it is the wise thing to take up our cross daily and follow Him.  This will bring His blessing and richest rewards.

And I found more foolish things.  I wrote down self-denial as foolish.  People will say, "You don’t have to give that up, do you?  You do not have to deny yourselves that, do you?"  Self denial is one of the prices we pay to honour God because God has chosen that we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.  Yes, we need to deny ourselves of some things that are very legitimate things, to honour and serve God, to glorify His name, to show the world what it is He lived and taught.  Foolishness in the sight of the world, to deny yourselves.  Eat, drink and be merry!  You only live once!  Live it up!  That is what most of the world says.  I am going to get what I can get for myself and miss the whole purpose of life.  God said, "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me."

I was thinking of another thing.  Separation.  God loves a separate people.  We have had to separate ourselves to come to this convention, and here we are a separate people in a separate place.  Called, separate from the world, and we are here together because God has called His people to come.  Separation from the world is often God’s service.  He loves those who will separate themselves from all that is of this earth to live unto Him.  I was thinking about that, and I would like to be separate unto God.  I would like that my life would be His and His alone.  He has created us for His pleasure and He wants to dwell richly in us and all the blessing will fill our lives if we are just willing to separate ourselves unto His service.  It is foolish in the eyes of the world.  But it is power to the Lord.

We can make more things that are foolish, but the things that are foolish in the eyes of the people of this world are powerful things in the eyes of God.

Then we go on to the weak things.  I thought about his expression of sending His servants forth as lambs among wolves.  I tell you, I was out in West Australia and saw those little lambs born and little tiny legs, weak and wobbly and I thought what chance would a little lamb, wobbling around looking for his Momma, have against a band of wolves?  But the Lord says, "I am going to send you forth as lambs among wolves!Sometimes we feel very helpless as God’s servants, but I never forget it’s God’s work and He has called us and it gives me strength.  He sent forth His servants and it is weak things.  Weak things are the little child he called and set in His midst. 

I don’t think I’m paternal, but these mothers bring these little tiny babies to me and they say, “Do you want to hold my baby?"  I am nervous and I get a hold of that baby and oh my – it feels as if the legs want to fall off and the head wobbles like something else.  It just feels like a ball of cotton, as soft as nice as it can be.  I like them about two or three years old and then I can put them on a lorry and I like little kids.  Jesus brought a little child and He said, "You need to be like a little child."  A childlike nature is what God loves.  When the Apostles wanted to know who was going to be in charge here, and that is the human nature, but the divine nature says, "Humble yourself as the little child."  God had chosen the weak things of this world.  The little child is the hallmark of the Kingdom of God.

I thought of the donkey colt.  My Dad thought that was so foolish – I would have to get myself a donkey just the same as Jesus who came riding into Jerusalem.  The King of Israel.  Behold, our King.  The disciples saw it and they were rejoicing as Jesus rode the donkey right into Jerusalem.  I do not know how many knew it was in the scripture when Jesus got on the donkey.  It says the King is coming on a white horse with armies and with great power.  Jesus is coming one day with great white horse.  He is coming with the angels of Heaven and He is coming to Earth to reign in that 1,000 years we were talking about.  He will come.  They do not know the difference between him coming with a mount of sorts on a donkey colt and Him coming again.  But now He comes on a little colt, the foal of an ass.

I was thinking about the death on the cross.  That looked weak to the world, didn’t it?  Death on the cross – He couldn’t come down!  How can He be the Son of God, hanging there amongst the thieves?  Reckoned with the transgressors in His death.  They said, "That cannot be."  They said, “Come down from the cross.”  But Jesus fulfilled the sweet will of His Father.  He gave Himself and He gave His life and the blood that flowed out was the price of your redemption and mine.  Precious blood of the Lamb.

I will tell you about an old man and someone in our meeting knows him very well.  There was an old man and his name was Lewis Murray.  He had preached the Gospel in Mexico and he chose that hymn we sung, 319 on several occasions.  I think when he was 95, he was in his mid-90’s and he was an old man, but still cooking, and he was on in the afternoon, and he was going to have a part in the convention.  If you pardon me, you will have to see a picture so you can see what he looked like.  He was at a 90 degree angle and here is how he looked – (Dale bent in half with his face only a metre from the floor of the stage).  Every church in the whole would have pensioned him off long ago.  Here he is on the platform in Edgewood, New Mexico and it took two brothers to get him on the platform and the mike was way above his head and they had to put it on the floor so he could speak into the mike.  Weakness.  Trembling with emotion.  95 had passed and after the convention I had the privilege of visiting around in the area close by where the friends had been attending the convention.  Each one of them said, “Did you hear what Lewis said?"  It makes me weep.  "Did you hear what Lewis said?He had the word for that whole convention.  That weak, trembling old man.  "Did you hear what Lewis said?And God has chosen the weak things to confound  the wise.

About that same time where I was, the list came out and I blinked I saw, and I looked again and down to the bottom of the list the two young sisters were together.  Two young girls just starting out.  Beautiful young girls, and they were listed for West Texas, out there amongst those rough cowboys.  In West Texas?  And I thought that was the weakest thing I ever saw.  I believed our overseer had made a terrible mistake.  That is what I thought.  I didn’t tell anyone else.  But I thought, that is the weakest thing, those two young sisters going out there to that rough tough West Texas.  Come convention at the time of the year, those sisters brought more lambs to the convention than all the brothers put together.  Weakness.  God has chosen the weak things to confound the mighty.  It looked ever so weak to me.  Those two young girls, they had the Gospel message and they brought more lambs than all the brothers put together.  In our weakness is God’s mighty strength.

Paul said, “When I am weak, then am I made strong.”  We do not have to fight these battles by the arm of flesh in human strength because our weakness appeals to God.  That is all I am going to say about weak things, but God has allowed the weak things to confound the world.

I am going to speak about base things.  Verse “28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are.”  I have been thinking of Nazareth.  Where did God cause Jesus to spend the first 30 years of His life?  He settled in Nazareth, and he will be called a Nazarene.  Could anything good come out of Nazareth?  Could anything good come of Jesus in Nazareth?  It was a despised little village I could imagine it being dirt streets and little town and nothing great in Nazareth, and yet that is where God caused His Son to grow up from childhood to adulthood.  It is from the carpenter’s bench in Nazareth that Jesus launched forth at the age of 30 years.  God chose Nazareth and He said, "He shall be called a Nazarene."  Despised little place.  Base place.  God chooses sometimes the base things.

I had a good reputation when I was a boy I tried to keep my name clean.  I tried to do what was right.  One thing I could not do, was bring reproach on my father’s name.  I got in trouble one night a policeman came to our house and he said to my Dad, “Where is your car?”  “It’s in the garage and you had better go see."  "Where is your son?"  He said, “He is upstairs,” or so he thought.  Someone else had told the police that we were out in Dad’s car, and we were letting down Charlie’s tyres and we were in trouble.  I was out with a carload of boys and we were doing a mischievous thing and we were letting some air out of the tyres of a neighbour.  He was at a lady’s place.  He used it to get after us, even if we walked by his house.  We did that, and the policeman said to my Dad, "You had better look in the bed!The policeman told my Dad, "He is out riding around in your car.I felt very bad about that because it brought reproach on my Dad’s name.  We had a filling station and Charlie used to be a good customer and he said, "I think you had better check those tyres (chuckle, chuckle, chuckle)."  I checked his tyres more than any one else in town.  Chuckle chuckle chuckle.  I felt terrible.  That is how we feel when we disappoint the Lord, don’t we?  A reputation can easily be destroyed when we do those light things.  We have no reputation when we go in the work, but we do amongst God’s people anyway.

What about blood?  Do you like blood?  God chose that precious blood.  I don’t like blood, especially my own.  But God has chosen despised things.  He has chosen blood.  Blood as His prized salvation.

He said, “Suffer with me, and you will reign with me.”  No one likes to suffer.  We don’t like to suffer, but sometimes we are in a place where we suffer for His name’s sake.  But suffering leads to reigning.  God has chosen suffering to bring glory to His name.

I thought of two other things I might mention : modesty and humility.  Modesty and humility.  God knoweth the humble, but the proud he knoweth afar off.  He loves humble and humility is a great thing in spite of the world.  The world sometimes despises a humble man.  Jesus was a humble man, and they didn’t like humility.  Some people don’t like modesty and there is nothing more beautiful than modest clothes, modest hairdo.  The world despises it, but God loves modesty and He loves humility.  He has chosen modesty and humility in His kingdom.  We do not want to despise the things God has chosen.  That is through all the categories.

The fourth one God has chosen.  Make a list of all these things.  You can add to the list.  I have just added something that appealed to me to make my point.  What God’s chosen is what I want and what you want.

That fourth category:  God had chosen the things that are not to bring to naught the things that are.  He is choosing the things that are not.  What things that are not has God chosen?  I have you a little story.  It was the only time after I went in the work that I got in trouble with the law after letting Charlie’s tyres down.  Charlie never let me forget the air went out of his tyres.

I want to tell you about the one time I was arrested in the work.  I want to tell you a little about Sheriff Rolando.  My companion went to get a shirt.  I looked up the road a saw him coming up the street.  He was in the middle of the road and he had the shirt.  He was running and he was in a sweat.  I said, "You had better sit down and rest a while."  He said, "Sheriff has been looking for us for three days.Sheriff Rolando was a real man.  He was all man.  He was 6’ 5”, a big man in Colorado and he had a gun and he had a big Western hat and light coloured suit, and he had the biggest silver Sheriff’s star on the front of his shirt.  He had on this white stripe, rubber cowboy boots two inches high and the heels are more and higher and he was looking for us!  My companion said, "Don’t go down there!"  I said, "We had better go to the Sheriff’s place and see what the problem is."  We went down.

The girl at the desk said, "You are the two men we have been looking for for two days."  She said, "Sit right there."  We sat down and I wondered if she had a gun under her desk.  I didn’t know.  She called him on the radio and he was there shortly.  He said, "I’ll be there in three minutes."  In came Sheriff Rolando.  Oh my!

“Are you preachers?”

“Yes, Sir.”

"Come into my office."  We went into the office.

"Sit there and sit there.”

Ok, so we did.  So he gets out his clipboard and he sits down in the corner to write his report sheet on his clipboard.

 “You been preachers.”  He said, "I have been asked to arrest you because you are suspicious-looking characters.  Down in the last place, we had seen a beautiful church raised up and it was doing great and down there. My companion and I were writing letters and mailing them in the little store where we were having the meetings.  The Mail Carrier would come by and pick up our letters and look through them and see where they went. The letters were addressed to Miss so and so and Miss so and so and so on."  We were writing to the sister workers and perhaps we were foolish to do this.  He spread the story.  These two men belong to the Lonely Hearts Club and they have a girlfriend in every town.  Maybe we had been too careless.  He said, "These men write lots of letters.  They are car thieves and cattle thieves."  It was the preacher down there, he started all that. 

Now we were up in a little town and we had an opening, but we had to go and see the seven men on the Board of the town hall.  They didn’t meet again for months, and we needed the hall now.  The mayor who made the Town Hall bookings said, "All the men are working.  This is a sugar beet town and all the men are all working on the sugar beet."  He said, "We will have the next meeting on 1 January."  I said, "We are talking about having some meetings this month.He said, "It is alright if you go around and talk to the men on the Board."  We would knock at the house.  "My husband is asleep, or on shift."  It took a whole week to find seven men and every day we went in a different car and on Saturday we went on the school bus.  It was a Ford one day and a Chevie the next.  We had a different car every day because we were living with our friends and they would say, "Use our car."  We got the opening.  The mayor said, "It is okay, if it is okay with the Board."  The men said, "It is okay with me, if it is okay with the Mayor."  They said, "It is okay."  We started our meetings and we went around and knocked on doors and we were suspicious-looking characters.  Whose cars were all these cars?

We imagined in our mind the kinds of questions the Sheriff was going to ask.  "Whose cars were those that we were driving around in – a different one every day?" He is going to ask us questions, and it helps me to understand that verse, the things that are not …..

 “Who,” he said, “are you?”


“What is the name of your church?”  And you will recognize some of these questions!

“Sir, we don’t have a name, we are just preaching the Gospel.”

“And you don’t have a name?”

“We just preach the Gospel.”

“Well, where are the headquarters of your church?”

“We do not have any headquarters to our church.  We are out on our own.  We have fellowship with some, but we don’t have any earthly headquarters.”

He said, “Where is your church building?”

I said, “Sheriff, We do not have a church building. We preach in the Town Hall.  All summer we were in the Harmony Hall, just two blocks up the street.”

 He said, “I knew something was going on there, and wondered what it was.”

I said, “We have no church.  We meet in homes.”

He said, “Where is your seminary to get training?  Where do you go to school?”

“We don’t have any seminary.  We have been learning in the school of experience.”

Question 4,  “Who pays your salary?”

I said, “This is a faith work.  We don’t have a salary.”

“You don’t have a salary?  Where do you boys live?”

We are not doing too good.  “We don’t have a home.  We live with our friends here now.  We are with Sam Jones, he is in the police force here.  Do you know him?”

“Where is your car right now?”

We had come in the car with one of our friends, and he was waiting for us outside.

We said, “Sheriff, we have no car.” .. and then he went on about us being in these different cars. I noticed the back of his neck was getting red and I said, "I do not think we are getting anywhere."  I said, "If you give me five minutes of your time, I would like to tell you about our work so you can see what we are doing."  So he turns in the swivel chair and faces us.  I said, "We both had cars, and we sold them.  We both had homes and we sold our homes.  We have gone out to preach the Gospel.  I have this young man with me and he is learning in the school of experience how to preach the Gospel.  We have gone forth just like Jesus taught, just as the preachers in the Bible."  I said, "We have no building because our meetings are in homes and we worship in the homes of God’s people.  As servants of God, we live in the homes where we are invited.  We just walk unless somebody gives us a ride.I guess that is all I told him.  All of a sudden he came out of that swivel chair and he held it and shook my hand with a great big hand and grasped my feeble hand.  He said, “Boys, there has been an awful mistake."  He said, "I want to apologize to you men.”  He said, "This is terrible what I have done."  He said, "I just wish we had a whole lot more just men up here."  He went on to say, "You boys are doing the work of the Lord and I have been impressed with you and I am ashamed.  Will you please accept my apologies?  If you have any trouble, you can come straight to Sheriff Rolando.  Will you do that?"  “Yes,” we said.

Every question that he could think of to ask that we ought to have answers to, we didn’t have.  And you know, I think that helps to answer the question.  God hath chosen the things that are not to bring to naught the things that are.  Sure, they have their hired preacher and their homes and manse and seminaries and church buildings and on and on and choirs, and we have nothing.

The Lord hath chosen the things that are not.  We do not need to be ashamed when we have to tell people that we do not have those things.  Maybe if you wanted to prove your point, you could show them that verse.  I was glad of the experience and went away rejoicing.  We went on preaching the Gospel in the place and no one else bothered us.  Did the Sheriff come to meetings?  No he didn’t, but we appreciated our friend Rolando.  I wish you could have seen him.  He was a real man.