True praise of the Lord isn't affected by circumstances but is centered on the very person of God.
Franz Joseph Haydn was a famous composer during the late 1700s. He lived in Austria and composed and played music for the Austrian royal family. His works are known worldwide, and, perhaps more notably, he is known as the teacher of Beethoven. One of Haydn's compositions is entitled "The Creation" and documents the seven days of creation found in Genesis. On the performance of "The Creation" at Vienna Music Hall one night, Haydn decided to attend, despite his old age and confinement to a wheelchair. The orchestra and choir performed beautifully, and as they reached the pinnacle of their performance, the audience burst forth in resounding applause, leaping to their feet. They applauded the composer who sat before them, whose wonderful work had just been performed. Haydn struggled to his feet, painfully standing up from his wheelchair, and motioned for the crowd to quiet. He then commented as he pointed to Heaven, "No, no, not from me, but from thence comes all!"
Haydn offered God true praise for what He had accomplished through him. Haydn could have accepted the praise and remained seated. He could have silently given God the glory; but he realized that all praise, worship, and honor from such a work deserved to go to God, not him.
While Haydn offered true praise and glory to God, notice in our verses a group of people whose worship wasn't authentic. Christ was nearing the end of His time on earth and had plans to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. He sent his disciples to retrieve the donkey, then rode into the city. The people praised Christ, laid down palm branches (a sign of peace), and shouted praises to Christ as He rode by. But the praise from their lips didn't match the feelings of their hearts.
Many of the Jewish people at that time believed Christ would free them from the Roman rule over their nation. But as Christ said, His mission on earth was to free them from a much greater enemy—the devil and sin. Wars could be fought and the Jewish people could prevail, but without Christ, they would never see victory over sin. These people praised Jesus for what they thought He would do for them, not for His role as the Son of God.
I wonder if sometimes we are like the Jewish people who praised the Lord that day. When we offer praise, or worship God at church, are we truly worshipping Him for who He is, or for what He has done for us? While there is nothing wrong for praising God when He provides or delivers (He deserves it!), do we still praise Him even in our trials?
True worship and praise for the Lord isn't affected by your circumstances. It is based on the fact that God is holy, sovereign, and omnipotent. A heart of true praise realizes that no matter what comes, without God's salvation, you would forever be lost. That is truly reason to praise and thank God.
Examine your heart right now. Have you praised God for being God, knowing that without Him you would be lost? Or is your praise merely based on what He has done for you? Take time today to praise God, no matter how you're feeling or what circumstances arise. Remember that God is good all the time.
Source: Daily in the Word, August 23, 2009