Matthew 21:16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
‘From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’?”
As many have noted, Jesus changed one word in quoting Psalm 8:2. Interestingly, the NIV has adjusted the translation there to match this verse, but most translations render the verse in Psalms as “ordained strength.” As countless people have experienced, praising God really does bring strength on virtually all levels. The reason why is simple: actively praising God shifts our focus to Him, allowing Him to replace our weakness with His strength. The KJV may have mistranslated Proverbs 23:7, but it is certainly true that how we think affects how we are. That’s why God holds us accountable for our thought lives as well as our overt actions. (Matthew 5:28) The best antidote for all the devil and the world want to shovel into our minds is to choose to praise God. When our hearts are focused on Him in gratitude and praise, we enter His throne room, at least to an extent. (Psalm 22:3) The more we experience that, the less hold this world has on us and the more victory we experience.
I can never forget the time I was in a prayer meeting with three brothers in the Lord and we were singing praise together. The joy and Presence of the Lord flooded me so strongly that I literally told God He would have to pull back a little if He had anything more for me to do here, because my flesh simply couldn’t take it. One more drop would have translated me out of this world! However, even having experienced that, sometimes I forget to praise God. Things can look dark for me, too. I have learned, both from the Word and from experience, that praise and gratitude are choices we make. We think that if we don’t feel grateful, that’s it. However, our feelings are notoriously unreliable. I couldn’t begin to count how many times I have chosen to start praising God in spite of circumstances and my emotions and have been lifted up as a result. However, I have also learned that simply telling someone to praise God doesn’t do much good; they have to be coached and guided. Right now several people are pretty discouraged about this church, seeing what’s gone on over the past year or two. I understand that, but I also know that, as our Verse for the Year says, nothing is too difficult for God. (Jeremiah 32:27) The point for each of us is to get our focus off of ourselves and our circumstances and onto Him, in gratitude and praise both for what He has already done and what He is going to do, even though we don’t know just what that is.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I’ve been experiencing some subtle “negative programming” myself even this morning. Help me apply this truth consistently, praising You so that my vision won’t be clouded by the enemy and I’ll be able to follow You fully to do all that You have planned, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!