Returns and Exchanges is all about the things we pick up along the way. We’re focused in specifically on addiction, anger, and depression. These are things we carry that we were never meant to have. We all must learn how to return those things to God and exchange them for what he has for us.


What do you do when you get a gift you don’t really want? You take it back and get something better! Along the way we pick up bad gifts: addictions, habits, and frustrations just to name a few. But instead of trading them in for something better, we just keep them and wind up overloaded and unhappy with a bunch of junk we never wanted in the first place. Let’s let God process some returns and exchanges for us and get back to the good life he planned!


“Defective”


Sometimes things just don’t work the way you want them to. Addiction is kind of like that. It’s something in your life that doesn’t work the way you want it to. It’s broken, defective. It needs to be replaced with something that’s designed and suited perfectly for you. And who better to provide that fix than the one that made you in the first place.


In Romans 7:21-24 it says, “So, I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am!”


This is the most frustrating part of life we all want to do and be what is right, however we are at war with ourselves trying to figure out what “right” means. Luckily for those who follow Christ we have the Bible that gives us the blueprints on how to live “right.”


“Angry Customer”


We’ve all seen the irate person blowing up the customer service desk because of a perceived injustice. In every case, it’s because the person did not get what they expected. So, what happens to you when your experience doesn’t match up with your expectation. Are you an angry customer?


In James 4:1-2 it says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.”


Notice the very first observation he makes here. He says, “…your desires that battle within you?” New Year’s resolutions fail because we’re looking at the outside when the root of the problem is inside. To really change, you must deal with the internal, not just the external. Scripture always points to the inside.


“Clearance Rack”


Things that stick around for too long make their way to a clearance rack. That makes room for the new items that are coming in. We’re always getting a fresh look at who we are in Christ. The trouble is the old view is in the way. What out-of-style conclusions about your identity need to hit the clearance rack?


In Proverbs 4:23 it says, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” Be careful if you think that you must do something to be accepted by culture rather than already be seen as acceptable by Jesus. Be careful if you think that something you’ve done, said, or going to say or do prohibits you from going to church. One of the biggest excuses I hear for not attending church: “Well you don’t know what I have done!” What does that have to do with you coming to church and hearing, being molded and shaped, and being guided by God? Everyone has sin, that’s why we all need a savior.


“Buyer’s Remorse”


You know the feeling of wanting something badly, buying it, and then regretting the purchase. There’s a sense of hopelessness that can set in, like you’re stuck now with something you don’t really want, and it’ll never be better. When your enthusiasm is long gone, and depression sets in, what do you do?


In Psalm 42:3-5 it says, “Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior.”


Tell yourself that you can get out of this feeling(s), preach to yourself everyday and let God fight for you.


Jeffrey Bryant, Lead Pastor, Clinton First Assembly