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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

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CIT: JAMES TAUGHT THE JEWISH CHRISTIANS THAT THE TRIALS OF LIFE ARE GIVEN TO MATURE THEIR FAITH. PROP: CHRISTIANS SHOULD APPROACH TRIALS WITH THE ATTITUDE THAT TRIALS DEVELOP SPIRITUAL MATURITY.

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The book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, has been enjoyed by children for years. It tells the story of a little boy named Alexander, who struggles though “one of those days.” He experiences one trial after another. For instance, when he awakes in the morning:
“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
After an awful day at school, a painful trip to the dentist, and a terrible experience at the shoe store, Alexander sits down at the supper tables as his trial continue:
“There was lima beans for dinner and I hate limas. There was kissing on TV and I hate kissing. My bath was too hot, I got soap in my eyes, my marble went down the drain, and I had to wear my railroad-train pajamas. I hate my railroad-train pajamas. When I went to bed Nick took back the pillow he said I could keep and the Mickey Mouse night-light burned out and I bit my tongue. The cat wants to sleep with Anthony, not with me. It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
We all have Alexander days don’t we. Sometimes Alexander weeks or even Alexander years. Even for Christians life is not exactly what we desire all the time. Along the way there are difficulties, pains, and sorrows. Life is just full of trouble isn’t it.
James refers to them as “trials.” That word can have one of two meanings. It can have a negative meaning in which it means temptation, as in . There James will remind us that God does not tempt us to sin.
But here “trials” has a positive meaning. It is talking about those hard times that God allows you to go through to strengthen our faith. The Devil tempts us to bring out the worst in us, but God tests us to bring out the best in us.
James was writing a letter to Jewish Christians showing them how to mature as Christians. Here he tells them that their attitude toward trials was all wrong. CIT: Instead of reacting to trials negatively they should recognize trials as an opportunity for joy since trials lead to spiritual growth.
We are really no different. The first thing that we learn when we become Christians is that Christians aren’t exempt from trouble. As a matter of fact becoming a Christian is a guarantee that we experience trouble in this sin filled world. Yet, we should approach trouble with the attitude that trials develop spiritual maturity. So James starts by discussing:

I. Trouble is coming; get ready for it! (v.2b)

James 1:2 ESV
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
When you live in the real world, troubles are a reality. That why in verse 2 he says, When you meet trials of various kinds,” not, If you meet trials of various kinds.”
Matthew 16:24–25 ESV
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
- “24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
We are never more like Christ than when we have a cross to bear.
John 16:33 ESV
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Life itself really could just be considered a series of trials. Think about it. If you are not one now, then you are just coming out of one, or about to go into one.
James goes on to describe the trails that we face. He says, “When you meet trials of various kinds.” That word really means multi-colored trials. James says that not only do trials have different shapes and sizes, but trials come in different shades and colors.
There is a rainbow of trouble out there waiting on us. There are the reds of anger and resentment, the yellows of sickness and disease, the greens of envy, the blacks of death and sorrow, the blues of depression and sadness. We all have troubles, but they all have a little different color to them.
He then shows us how trouble comes. He says, “When you meet trials of various kinds.” Some translations use the word, “encounter.” That word, encounter, is an interesting little word. It means literally, “to fall around or to fall into.”
This same word is used in in the parable of the good Samaritan.
Luke 10:30 ESV
30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.” ()
The man was going down the road minding his own business when out of nowhere comes trouble. He didn’t expect it he wasn’t look for it, but trouble found him.
James says that is the way trouble comes to us. We are going along minding our own business, not expecting trouble, not looking for it, but somehow it just finds us anyway. That is the reality of trouble.

II. When trouble comes, rejoice in it! (v.2a)

James 1:2 ESV
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
Based on what James has said about trouble and what we know about trouble from our every day lives, this is not the response we are looking for. We think may our response should be, like the Boy Scouts, “Be prepared for trouble.” Or like my dad use to tell me when I got hit with a baseball, “Suck it up and tough it out. Shake it off, that didn’t hurt.” I always thought, “Yeah it didn’t hurt you, I’m the one with the black eye.”
But James says, “Consider it pure joy.” That is not a natural response. To be honest with you, to me it really sounds kind of flippant. I mean don’t you just hate it when you are talking to someone about troubles that are really real and painful to you and the person responds, “Well praise the Lord your having troubles.”
You say, “My dog of 10 years just got hit by a car and died.” And they respond, “We’ll glory to God, God took that dog, but He can give you another one.” You want to say, “I’ll knock you out. That was my dog, old Spot. So we begin to look other places to see what the Bible says about reacting to trouble. Maybe James just missed it. So we ask Peter how we should respond to trouble.
So we go over and knock on Peter’s door. After all Peter was probably like the co-pastor of the church in Jerusalem with James. “Peter how do you think we should respond to trials?”
1 Peter 1:6 ESV
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
- “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,”
He said the same thing that James said. Well maybe we’ll go ask Jesus and see what he has to say.
Matthew 5:10–12 ESV
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
- “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
So now we are trying to make since out of how we can respond with joy in the midst of trials. The key is in the two little words that come before it, “Count it.” This is a banking term.
If you have change in your pocket and you want a Coke you would take it out of your pocket and count it. It means to add up and evaluate the situation. Like in business, if you were to figure out how well your business was doing you would take all your profits, all the things that you own, all the good stuff and put it in the assets column.
If you have change in your pocket and you want a Coke you would take it out of your pocket and count it. It means to add up and evaluate the situation. Like in business, if you were to figure out how well your business was doing you would take all your profits, all the things that you own, all the good stuff and put it in the assets column.
But then you would take all of the debts you owe, the bills you have to pay, the bad stuff and put it in the liabilities column. James says, “When trials come your way, you have been sticking them in the wrong column. You have been sticking them in the liabilities column. You have been fusing and complaining. You have been putting them in the sad column and all the time you should have been putting them in the glad column.
Paul uses the same idea in
Philippians 3:8 ESV
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
- “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
He say’s, “All that stuff that I though was good for me. All those works and deeds. I had them in the glad column. But they didn’t make me glad at all. I put them all in the sad column, the liabilities column. I count it all loss compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ.”
We have put trials in the liabilities column because we have missed seeing the real value of trials. James says, “Count it all joy.”
James understood human nature. He knew that we would put some of it in the glad column, but keep most of it in the sad column. Many times we do something like this. How are things going, “We’ll my dog died, bank took my car, lost my job so I can’t get to work, wife left and took the kids and I’ve been eating Sardines for supper for the last month, but everything is going good.
We want to complain about it before we surrender our problems to God. What we don’t realize that God has purpose behind our trouble.

III. When trouble comes, trust God in it!

James 1:3–4 ESV
3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
“for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

A. He’s testing you - “for you know,” (v.3)

“for you know,” (v.3)

James says that you know something that lost people don’t know. You have a gift that lost people don’t have. Your trials come with a purpose in mind. Trials bring a testing of your faith. That word testing is an interesting word. It means to try or to prove in order to purify what is there.
*It was used in the context of mining for gold or silver. When gold or silver comes out of the mine it was mixed with all kinds of impurities. So they would take it an assayer’s office to have it put under the fire to purge all of the impurities and bring for the genuine element of the gold. The more it was purged of impurities, the more valuable the gold became.
One of the reasons for trouble is so that our faith might be tested and the impurities purged. The testing of our faith brings forth the genuine element of our faith. And finally you have a faith that can stand the test of fire. It is that faith that is approved by God.

B. He’s toughening you- “steadfastness” (v.3)

Now notice what happens when this genuine element of faith begins to be revealed. James says that it develops “steadfastness. “ Some translations say, “patience.” The idea is perseverance, staying power, endurance, or steadfastness.
I’m going to call it toughness. It is this toughness that is reveled which allows us to endure even hotter tests and purify our faith even more. The more our faith is purified, the more toughness we have to endure hotter the tests we can endure.

C. He’s growing you- “perfect and complete”(v.4)

The result of this process is spiritual maturity. Trials do not bring spiritual maturity. Trials brings toughness or endurance and toughness brings spiritual maturity.
James 1:4 ESV
4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
*I was watching a television documentary not too long ago. It was called Major League Baseball Inside Spring Training. Players were running, working out with weights. On the field they were running different drills. The one drill that caught my eye was the catcher drill. A coach was throwing a ball as hard as he could in the dirt directly in front of a catcher with no pads. All he had on to protect him was a protective mask and a glove.
He was getting hit in the stomach, the chest, the shoulders, arms, and legs. This guy had bruises from head to toe. The reporter asked the coach what the point of the drill was. The coach said, “For any catcher to be the best ball player he can be, I’ve got to make him tough.
For us to become the best Christian we can be, For God to grow us into the image of Christ. God has got to make us tough. Now the process is not fun; sometimes it’s grueling. But we can count it as a time for joy because we know that on the other side, we are going to look more like Christ than when we went in.
Some would say, “That’s not fair. I don’t like going through tests. It’s not fair that my daddy died. It’s not fair that I’m going through financial difficulty. It’s not fair that I’ve got cancer. It’s not fair that I don’t make as much money as the Jones. It’s not fair that my spouse ran off with another. It’s not fair that my faith has to be tested.
Listen,

Life Principle: A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that can not be trusted.

When the trials of life start purging the impurities, you’ll find out what kind of faith you really have. If there is no genuine element of faith left when you come out of the trial there was no faith there when you went in. And it took a trial to show you that your greatest need is faith in Jesus Christ.
James gives us the standard in which toughness seeks to do in us. v. 4 “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Now there is only one person that was ever perfect and complete, sinless, spiritually mature and lacking nothing in every way. That was Jesus Christ.
And James says that the ultimate aim of trials that brings toughness is to give us the very character of Christ so that we might live, minister, care for our families with the wisdom and attitude of Christ. Now we will never be perfect and complete this side of heaven, but that is not going to stop God from making us more like Christ.

IV. When trouble comes, God comes too. (, )

God comes bringing grace and glory: grace now, glory later.

A. Grace ()

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
- “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Remember, a little while ago we said that trouble comes in all different kinds of colors. Reds of anger, blues of sadness, yellows of sickness and disease. Here we see that for every shade of trouble, God gives a matching shade of grace. The reward for trouble is Grace Now. He will give you the grace now to persevere through whatever you are facing.

B. Glory ()

James 1:12 ESV
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
- “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
The Christian only receives the crown, when he learns to endure the crisis. reminds us to store our riches in heaven and not on earth. And if we persevere and allow God to continue to purge our faith, James reminds us that once we have made it through the trial and have been approved, there awaits for us a crown of life.
Summation
*Two men were playing golf. One of the men had a dog that would run to the ball after the man hit the shot. The man knocked the ball on the green and made the putt. After He made the putt, the dog stood up on his back legs and started clapping. The other man said that dog is incredible. I’ve never seen anything like that . Does he do any more tricks. Sure, when I miss a put he does cartwheels. The man said, “Cartwheels? How many does he do?” The man replied, “Well that depends on how hard I kick him.”
God is going to make us into something incredible. He is going to transform us into the image of Christ. But that means we may have to be kicked along a little along the way. You see, “Those terrible, horrible, no good very bad days are good for us, because they make us more like Christ.
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