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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - Fulfillment of the Empty Life

Charles Stanley - Fulfillment of the Empty Life

Charles Stanley - Fulfillment of the Empty Life
TOPICS: Emptiness, Fulfillment

At the end of one of our In Touch rallies, I was shaking hands with some people, and a lady walked up to me and she handed me a piece of paper that was a part of a sheet of a stenographer's pad. And so, I put it in my pocket, and later on, I pulled it out and read it. And this is what it said: "Age 24. Adult child, alcoholic father. Mother mentally ill and hospitalized most of my life. Physically and sexually abused. I feel empty, hopeless. There is no purpose for my life. I am angry at God that I was born but I choose to believe the things you said this evening. Life can be worth living. Suicide and hell would be worse".

Here's the confession of an empty heart. What a tragedy, at the age of twenty-four, that life is empty, with no sense of meaning and no sense of purpose. And all she could do is look back on the past, and as she looked back on the past, it all looked dismal and discouraging. And as she looked from her past to her future, her future looked so bleak, she had already considered suicide, taking her life, ending her life. What a tragedy at the age of twenty-four. But my friend, not only do people feel that at twenty-four, they feel it in their teens. That's why we have teenage suicides, hundreds, thousands of young people committing suicide. Can you imagine and can you think about how you and I felt as teenagers?

We were so full of life, looking forward to life, so many things we were excited about, all of our plans and our motivation and the thrill about what life held for us. And yet, you and I are part of a generation today where young people, even very small young people consider committing suicide because their life is so empty, and their present circumstances are so difficult and so horrible, and they see no meaning and purpose of life. And therefore, why not just take their life? Well, that doesn't only happen to young people and to people in the age of twenty-four, but the cry of emptiness can be heard in the deepest ghettos, it can be heard out of most affluent houses. It can be heard at the bar downtown and it can be heard at the country club. It is heard from people who are young. It is heard from people who are senior citizens. It makes no difference.

Emptiness is a horrible feeling, but it is a plague in this nation for which there is no medical prescription. It is a plague that has haunted the hearts of multitudes of people not only here but all around the world, people whose hearts are empty. There is no sense of meaning to life, no sense of direction, no sense of purpose. They're just existing. And you see, if you don't know something that many of us do know, what real purpose is there for living anyway? That is, if there is no God, if there is no Christ, what real purpose is there for living? And so, what happens? People look at life, they look at their future and they think, "What's the use"? And so, they check out.

Well, what I want to say to you in this message is this: there is indeed a real reason for living, there's a purpose for living. And no matter how empty you may feel, and as you look at your past and your background and you see how absolutely horrible your past has been and you ask yourself the question, "Could my life ever have any meaning? Could it ever have any purpose? Could I ever really amount to anything? Could I ever really have any real sense of self-esteem? Could I ever really feel important? Could I ever be somebody"? The answer to that is absolutely yes. And that's what this message is all аbout: "The Fulfillment of the Empty Life".

And I want you to turn, if you will, to John chapter 4. And here's the experience of a woman who felt the same kind of emptiness that some of you feel, and yet, she was filled: filled up, overflowing, abounding and excited and motivated about what she discovered the day she met Jesus Christ, the Son of God. John chapter 4, and let's begin reading in those early verses of this fourth chapter. Jesus is on His way to Galilee, and the third verse of this fourth chapter begins: "He left Judea and departed again into Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour".

And that could have, Roman time, twelve noon, or Jewish time, six o'clock in the evening. "There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give Me a drink.' For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman therefore said to Him, 'How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman? For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.' Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, "Give Me a drink," you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.' She said to Him, 'Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?' Jesus answered and said to her, 'Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.'"

And her response? "The woman said to Him, 'Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw.' He said to her, 'Go, call your husband and come here.'" Well, that was sort of a ridiculous kind of response. Listen to this. "'Go, call your husband and come here.' The woman answered and said, 'I have no husband.' Jesus said to her, 'You have well said, "I have no husband"; for you have had five husbands and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.'"

Here is a woman who came upon the scene and met a stranger, and in response is her life is entirely changed. Let me give you a little background of what's happening. Jesus is on His way to Galilee, and the scripture said He must go through Samaria. Now, listen to me carefully. Jesus Christ never took an unimportant step in His day. Nor does He ever take an unimportant step in your life and my life. This was a providential moment in time for Jesus and the woman whom He had met there at the well, the Samaritan woman. She came out to get water for her family, and on this particular moment, she met someone who absolutely changed her life. But it was not typical for Jews to go through Samaria because Samaritans and Jews did not get along.

In fact, they had a real, true hatred for each other. And so, when this woman said to Jesus, who said to her, "Give me a drink," she was startled that this man who was a Jew, and she could tell he was, would even ask her for a drink. But this woman symbolizes millions and millions of people today who are very, very empty in their life. Here is a woman, the Bible says, who had five husbands. And Jesus said to her, "The one you are living with now is not really your husband". So, you can imagine what she must have thought as she meets this man for the first time. And He talks about giving her a drink of water. He doesn't have a bucket, he doesn't have anything, no rope to draw with. And then He says to her, "If you knew who you were talking to, I would give you a drink, and you would never need another drink".

What in the world is He talking about? What is He referring to here? But here is a woman who symbolizes millions of people, who, in her own best efforts had tried her best to get her life full of something that would satisfy this deep yearning, longing for love, for completeness, for fulfillment. Listen carefully, until a person is able to experience love, until a person is able to experience not just love but God's love, there will always be a sense of emptiness, no matter what you attempt to fill it up with. And this woman certainly must have attempted to fill hers up with one more man. She got married the first time and it didn't work. So she married a second time and it didn't work; a third time, it didn't work; a fourth time, it didn't work; a fifth time and it's still not working. She was doing what many people do, and that is, attempt to fill the void in their life with something they are just sure the next time it's going to work. Every person who has been married the first time, second time, third time, fourth time, fifth time.

You say, "Well, people don't marry that many times today". Yes, they do. Until the right thing comes on the inside, there's always going to be that emptiness, and so there is pain: the pain of separation from something, the pain of searching and knowing that it seems hopeless. And I think there are multitudes of people who really and truly feel hopeless in areas of their life. They can feel hopeless in their family, in their relationships. They can feel hopeless with their children. They can feel hopeless with their parents. They can feel hopeless in their business. They can feel hopeless in their vocation. They're just in a rut, doing something they just have to do. They're just existing. They're not really living, they're just existing, making ends meet, but no sense of direction, no purpose and, for all practical purposes, their life is meaningless.

And if they died, who would care? Who would care? And I wonder if that's the way you feel? If you were to die, who would care? What real difference would it make if you keep on living or if you were to die? What difference does it make? Well, my friend, it makes an awful lot of difference because, you see, no matter how empty you may feel, there is someone who can fill that emptiness and cause you to overflow with joy and peace and a sense of importance. Not prideful importance but real importance, genuine, godly importance. There is someone who can turn your life inside out and cleanse it, upside down, right side up, set you in the right direction, and cause your life to take on a whole new sense of meaning. You don't have to live empty!

And you see, it's dangerous to do so. It's dangerous just to live your life and stay busy doing this and doing that and doing the other to keep yourself from feeling that way. Because, what happens? Once a person begins to realize that nothing they are doing seems to work, they begin to intensify and take greater risk at trying to fill up this yearning, this longing in their heart. And the tragedy is that this happens to people very young in life. What is the use of living? What meaning is there to life? What purpose do I have? And again, I ask, what difference will my life make? And if your life won't make any difference, then why put up with all the temptation, why put up with all the trials, why put up with all the tribulations and difficulties and hardships, why go through all the suffering? Just end it all!

And so, what happens when this emptiness sometimes becomes so intense, and the pain is gnawing pain. And especially as a person gets a little older and they think, "God, isn't there a better future for me than this"? And sometimes when a person is separated or divorced and they look down through the years and they think, "God, You mean I will never be able to have anybody else"? This awesome sense of overwhelming loneliness and estrangement and emptiness and emotional pain that gnaws and cuts and grinds at the human heart, is there any wonder people say, "Why keep on living in a life like this"? And yet, I want to tell you, my friend, you don't have to live an empty life. And you see, what happens is sometimes a person takes great risk for their future by trying to fill it up now. And what happens is, they look in the wrong places trying to find the right thing to fill up their emptiness.

And this is what this woman was doing, the Samaritan woman. The only thing she knew to do. If her heart was not full of love, if she did not feel loved and feel important and feel like somebody, if this man didn't do it and she didn't please him, she'd try a little harder and try to please the next one. So, she married the next man. And she thinks, "Well, this has got to be it". And she tries again. And that isn't it either. You know why? Listen to me carefully. Because in every single living human being, there is this God shaped vacuum. The only person who can fill it is God. Anything else you try to put in that place within your heart won't fit. It doesn't fit. It just drips out. It just leaks out. It won't fit. It won't stay. It won't remain. You can't fill up God's vacuum with anything, anybody, any experience, any pleasure. It won't fill it.

Because you see, that's the way God made us. He made you and me for Him. And He says that He predestined that every single one of us would be conformed to the likeness of His Son. That means before you and I were ever born, God says, "This is My purpose for him. This is My purpose for her. This is my purpose for My creation". And the purpose for the creation is to glorify and to honor God. And the purpose that every single individual has, from God's viewpoint, is to glorify Him and to magnify Him and to bring glory to Him, and that in His great grace He would be willing to reach down and forgive us of our sins and to cleanse our life and to make us whole and to make us complete and to make us new, and as He says, to make us new creations in Christ. And therefore, He says, then to conform us, to spend the rest of our life shaping us into the likeness of His Son so that we could bring glory to Him forever and ever and ever.

If that is God's purpose, and it is so clearly written in the Word that it is, if He's predestinated us to be conformed to His likeness and to make us like Him, then my friend, He's not going to allow anything in this world to satisfy the deep, yearning hunger, that emptiness in the human heart but Himself. Only He is going to be able to fill that big hole in your life. Then, what about those people who know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior? They've trusted their Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, but you know what? They feel this same kind of emptiness. Maybe not to the same degree or maybe to the same degree but they feel empty. Why do you suppose that's true? Because one of the reasons that people feel empty is sin. It isn't just because of some loss of a loved one. It isn't because things are not going exactly right or some great disappointment, but sometime, it's just pure sin.

You see, sin divides the mind and sin causes a person to feel empty. It doesn't make any difference how full your life may be of things and schedules and time and everything else. There is an awesome kind of emptiness that is the result of disobedience to God. And how many people started out in their Christian life, they loved God, they began to read the scriptures, they began to pray, and then somewhere along the way, they took a little detour. They intended for it to be short lived, but they took a little detour. Then they began to drift. They decided they didn't need to go to church Sunday morning and Sunday night, they'd just go on Sunday morning. Then they decided that, after all, every Sunday's not necessary, and before long, they weren't reading their Bible except on special occasions or when they felt a real need.

And they decided they didn't have enough money any longer even though they were making more money. They didn't have enough anymore to tithe, and so, they stopped tithing. And before long, they had just, they just found themselves drifting away. And now they feel empty on the inside and they can't figure out why they are so empty. "Oh," they say, "well, you know, you don't have to go to church. You don't have to read the Bible every day. You don't have to pray every day. You don't have to give to God". My friend, any man or any woman who is living outside the will of God does experience, listen, does experience emptiness because God has made us with this God shaped vacuum that only He can fill. And when we try to crowd Him out with other things and other experiences and other people and we ignore the Lord Jesus Christ, ignore God in our life, we begin to drift, you're going to feel emptiness.

There is not anything that man's ever created, man's ever made, nothing on the face of this earth that can fill that but God Himself. And until a person realizes that, they'll go through life... Isn't a shame for people who have everything in the world that money could buy to live their lives, but empty on the inside? They can fill up, they can fill their financial accounts, they can fill their time, but they can't fill their heart. This woman came to this well day after day, and she could fill her water jug, but she couldn't fill her heart. She came this day with an empty jug and an empty heart, and she met somebody who told her, "I'll give you a drink, and if you'll take a drink of what I want to give you, you won't ever feel thirsty again because what I'm going to give you is going to be like a well of water springing up on the inside of you, bubbling up and flowing unto eternal life".

And what was her response? "Give me a drink now"! She wanted it now. But I wonder how many of you are saying, "You know, I've already wrecked my life. I've already made some mistakes. I've already done so many things trying to get it filled up. And now, here's where I am. I'd have to admit that I've tried everything and nothing's worked". Wonderful. "What do you mean wonderful"? Wonderful! "How could you say wonderful"? I'll tell you why. Because if you've tried everything else and that doesn't work, now maybe you're ready to try the real thing, and that's somebody, and that somebody is Jesus Christ.

You say, "Now, don't give me that Jesus bit". Well, let me ask you a question. If you've tried everything else, why not try Him? You've tried everything else. You've tried drugs, you've tried affairs, you've tried money, you've tried work, you've tried prestige, prominence, position. You've tried everything you know to try. And you're still empty. Won't you try Him? You see, He said, "I came that you might have life and have it abundantly, overflowing, fulfilled". Peace, not gnawing. Satisfied, not thirsty, yearning, hungering and attempting to fill it with things that won't fill you. Why not try Him? And so you say, "Well, how do I try Him? I've read the Bible and I've prayed and I've been to church".

Well, you know, reading the Bible and praying and going to church are all good things. You say, "But I've been baptized. In fact, I've been sprinkled, poured on, and immersed! And none of those things have filled me up". Right. You know why? Because all of those things are external. There's only one somebody who can get on the inside of your spirit and fill you up and give you a sense of real meaning and purpose in life and make you begin to feel like, "Now I know why I'm alive". And I wonder if you really and truly are excited about being alive. And my friend, there are literally millions and millions of people on this globe who hate to see the sun rise the next day because of what their future holds. It is so dismal and dark and hopeless, and they feel so helpless. And there's an eternity out there somewhere, all they know is life is one more trial. Every day is a trial and a hardship.

Do you fall in that category? Well, I want to tell you about somebody who can change all of that, and His name is Jesus Christ. You see, He said He came for folks like you and me. He said, "I didn't come for the righteous. I came for sinners". That is, people like you and me who have sinned against Him, who have disobeyed Him, who have tried everything and found that it doesn't work. And you see, He came in order to fill you up, in order to make you so complete that He can turn your dismal, dark days into something absolutely fascinating and wonderful. Because you see, He came not only to forgive you of your sins, He says if you and I are willing to confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins. But you know what? That won't make you feel fulfilled. That just gets rid of the guilt. That just eliminates something that ought not to be there. He came not only to forgive us of our sins but He came to live on the inside of us.

Do you know what that means? That means that when you have Him, you have the full life of God living on the inside of you. He comes to indwell our spirit. And when He comes to indwell our spirit, He comes to do what? To live His life through us and to love, listen, to express His love in us, to us, and to express His love through us. You see, no one will ever feel complete until they're able to experience God loving them unconditionally. That means the guilt is gone. Does it mean that you haven't sinned. No, it means the guilt is gone, the fear is all gone. Why does the Bible say, "Perfect love casteth out all fear"? What does He mean? Does that mean that I have to love up to perfection so that I won't be afraid? No, here's what it means. Listen to this, it means that God's love is so complete, and when I experience that by faith, when I experience that His love is so complete within me, I don't have anything to be afraid of. Why? Because His perfect love has taken care of every single aspect of my life.

Now, get that. His perfect love has taken care of every single aspect of life. What do I have to worry about? Does He not say that He is working all things for good to those who love the Lord, to those who are called according to His purpose? If He's working everything out to my good and I really and truly believe He loves me enough, He loves me enough to be my heavenly Father, to save me of my sins, to give me eternal life, and to work out everything for my good, why am I afraid? You see, it is only when you and I are able to experience God's love is that empty place going to be full, overflowing with completeness, and you're going to feel like a complete person, a full person. You're going to realize that you are somebody important, important to God. Christ died for you.

You're going to begin to look at life totally different, that your life has meaning, that now, because God indwells you through His Son, Jesus Christ, listen, He can now use you to reach out to someone else who is empty, who is thirsty, who is hungry, who is risking their future trying to fulfill the emptiness and the loneliness in their heart. He can use you to be like a spring of water, like a refreshing stream to somebody who's so thirsty and who so desperately needs God. My friend, it begins with this. Believing the testimony of scripture, that Jesus Christ came into this world to forgive us of our sins and to make us His children. If you're willing to ask Him to forgive you of your sins and tell Him that you do believe the witness of scripture, that Jesus Christ died on the cross at Calvary, and when He died, He paid your sin debt in full. And the moment you're willing to ask Him to forgive you of your sins, you're forgiven in that moment.

You don't have to plead and beg and pray again for Him to do something that He's done. He died for your sins, and the moment you ask Him to forgive you, you're cleansed. The moment you say, "I do receive, Lord Jesus, You as my personal Savior," here's what happens. You don't just join a church and get baptized and do some external things. In that moment, the Bible says, the Lord Jesus comes to indwell you and then to fill you up with His love and to love through you and to live through you His life. It is yours for the asking. That's why Jesus said to this woman, and one of the very first things He said to her, He said to her, "If you knew the gift of God". You see, the fullness that fills up the empty life is a gift of God. It is the person of Jesus Christ who is yours by faith.

One day, a lady came to see me, and she came in and sat down and she said, "I need to tell you about my life". And she told me the story of her life, and it was so similar to the Samaritan woman's, I've never forgotten it. Told me how many times she'd been married. Tried to do her best. Things didn't work out. She had no sense of self-esteem, though she was a lovely lady. She had no sense of purpose, no meaning in life. And she says, "You know, I've tried everything. I've done it all". And she says, "I really came hoping that maybe you could just tell me something that would encourage me". And so, I began to share with her about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He could do in her life. And she listened and she prayed to receive Christ as her Savior and she left. And I didn't see her for some time.

I found out later that she was here on the Sundays and she would sit around in the balcony. But she came back to see me some time later and she walked in, she says, "I've brought you a gift". And I said, "Well, fine. I appreciate that". So, I sat down, opened the box, and when I took out the gift, it was a very ornate, pure silver goblet, heavy silver. And I said, "Well, thank you very much". And I was very grateful. She said, "Well, I want to tell you why I gave you that". She said, "The first time I came in here, my life was empty and I didn't see any real point in living". She said, "I came to see you," and she said, "you gave me a drink".

Now, I know who gave her the drink. She said, "You gave me a drink". And she says, "From that moment on, my life's been full. God has changed my life. And I just wanted to give you this silver goblet to remind you what one drink did for one woman". And she said, "I just want to say thank you". Let me tell you something, the only thing that will pour out of that is physical water, but Jesus said if you would take a drink of Him, what He would give you would be what? Everlasting water, eternal water that would never cease satisfying the longing of your heart. And you see, to reject Him is like a man in a burning desert who comes upon a flowing, cool stream in that hot, noonday sun. Burning, parched lips. Canteen has been dry for two days. Looking at that beautiful fountain of cool, crystal-clear water and walking on without taking a drink. My friend, Jesus is the only One who can satisfy your heart. I invite you to take a drink of Him by faith and tell Him that you receive Him as your Savior, your Lord, and your life.
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