A friend wrote me not long ago to share a thought the Lord had given.  In His study Bible, he'd come across a side note in Matthew regarding Jesus' talking with the Pharisee's and how they clung to their traditions, their ideas, and their concept of truth, all the while rejecting Christ who was right before them.  The note said that they "exchanged the holy for the hollow."  My friend went on to say that this reminded him of Saul, in I Samuel 15, when he had been told by God to "utterly destroy" the Amalekites.  Out of fear of the people, he didn't do this, and when confronted by the prophet Samuel, Saul asked him to, in effect, not dishonor him in front of those people publicly.  My friend said that Saul's placing more value upon the opinions of men than the the desire of the Father was a prime example of exchanging the holy for the hollow.  It's easy to judge Saul on this, but truly, how often have you and I done the same?  How recently as well?
      T. Austin-Sparks wrote of this in his look at the actions of Saul and related them to us in our day to day living.  He asked how often do we make a "compromise with Amalek because of the hardness of the way, the greatness of the cost?"  The call of the "hollow" can so often speak much louder than the whisper of the holy.  Paul said in Galatians 5 that our flesh would always bring us into conflict with His Spirit.  When that happens, what the Father calls us to is a difficult way, paved with great cost.  It can bring the appearance of many things that our flesh hates, the appearance of weakness, foolishness, failure.  Like Saul, we don't desire that anyone see us in that light.  The Amalekites had great wealth, yet Saul was told to destroy all of it.  What king conquers, yet collects no spoil, yet the Lord called Him to exactly that.  He couldn't.  He kept the best of the treasure and livestock for himself.  Saul chose the hollow over the holy.  In the American gospel of today, what believer, what pastor, willingly chooses the way of obscurity, painful sacrifice, and a path that makes no sense to anyone else, over the promise of success, achievement, recognition, and applause.  I confess, too many times the allure of the hollow has captured my heart to the forgetting of the holy.  Is the same true for you?
      I heard it said somewhere, that whatever ground we stand on, and wherever that ground may be, is holy ground, and we're to treat it as such.
I know that many of the places I have stood was seen as holy by His eyes, but not mine.  I chose the hollow there, and not the holy.  My way and my will mattered more than His.  I'm hoping that He's brought me a far piece since then, but I know, there are still those times when the hollow has held me more tightly than the holy.  When Samuel came to him, Saul told him that he'd carried out the Lord's will and destroyed the Amalekites, but Samuel asked him, "then what is all the bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle I hear?"   What bleating and lowing come from our lives today?  Where has the hollow mattered more than the holy?  Speaking of his life and that of Christ's, John the Baptist said, "I must decrease so that He may increase."  As Sparks said, He must become more and more as we become less and less.  The hollow must fade away, and the holy must come forth.  In me.  In you.  In us.  Let it be so.

Blessings,
Pastor O

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