Lifting hearts to God in thanks and praise.

Posts tagged ‘peace’

Saturday Psalm: 34

Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

There are so many verses in this psalm that have been made into worship music! There’s a company called Seeds that has verses 10 and 18 in two tracks (7, 9) on their first album and you can listen online here. They have a video of verse 10 which is fun to show kids. Here’s a video of Steve Green singing verse 13 with kids. But here’s the whole psalm with Karl Kohlhase, using verses 1 and 2 as a refrain, and here’s Shane and Shane’s version with some interesting word choices and verse 3 for a refrain. Because I love all things Rich Mullins, I couldn’t leave out his “Sing your Praise,” although the psalm in the bridge is 113 (we’ll get there)!

This is another Psalm written in couplets of meaning. I almost hear it as a friend riffing with David, answering him back line for line as in jazz. The context of this psalm is important too: David had acted like a madman before King Abimelech, and it worked, but here he is not boasting about himself at all but praising God completely. What comes out of David in the time of testing and relief is true praise, naming God’s power and encouraging those who look to him and do right to praise him too.

I don’t know any song dedicated to verse 5 but this time it leapt out to me. “Those who look to him are radiant/and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Here’s what I’m thinking. I’m so sad when I see shamefaced looks. My own face burns in shame when I’ve done wrong, and realize it. (This happened recently, so it’s fresh!) Shame is focused on a human’s wrong (“oh, the humanity!”) but those who look to God focus on him. God will never act in a way that shames us, David says. God is the one, the only one, who is perfect and to look to him, to know him, to love him, clears the self-shame off my face and replaces it with relief and shining love, sometimes even his glory. (This hasn’t happened recently, but it’s still a fresh memory.) So when we do wrong, we don’t have to internalize the shame but look to him, the forgiving, loving, cleansing one, and wait for him to work all things out.

The psalm has recommendations: keep your tongue from evil, deceit (lies, gossip?); do good; seek peace and pursue it. These are how you fear the Lord, and look to him.

Then verses 15-22 reassure us of how life goes: there will be trouble, but the Lord saves those who look to him. There are many afflictions for the righteous (those who do right) but the Lord delivers him out of them all (side note: deliverance can be instant and spectacular, or long road and lesson learning, or finally ending life to bring on eternity). The last two verses caught my attention as well. It’s affliction that will slay the wicked (but in v. 19 we just heard that the Lord saves the afflicted righteous ones) and those who hate the righteous (why? if they’re doing what is right, why hate them?) will be condemned. But the Lord redeems the life of his servants and they who run to him for safety (not because they’re perfect but because he is) will not be condemned.

All thanks and praise to God!

Saturday Psalm: 32

A Maskil of David.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Therefore let everyone who is godly
    offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
    they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me;
    you preserve me from trouble;
    you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
    which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
    or it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
    but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
    and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

In college I used to sing verse 7; this morning I found a short film based on verse 8; here’s Karl Kohlhase with a beautiful version of the whole psalm, using the first verse as a refrain; here’s a quieter version with Sons of Korah; and here’s a gorgeous version with a bit of introduction by Steve Bell.

Looking at this psalm anew, I am reminded to pause when I read Selah, and think a bit before moving on. My friend Rose posted a quote from Mark Twain on Facebook this  morning: “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything,” and it took a Selah pause to let that sink in. But I think it’s exactly the freedom that the second verse is talking about when it says there is no deceit in the spirit of the one who is forgiven.

After proclaiming that there is happiness in being forgiven, covered, wrongs not counted as iniquity, David goes into the personal account of his pain when he kept silent. Bones wasting away, groaning all day long, strength dried up; have you ever felt that? Here again I feel David has suffered more deeply than I although I have an idea of this feeling.

I appreciate the Selah. After pausing to think on the pain, we turn to the acknowledgement of sin, the uncovering of iniquity. “I did this, and it was wrong. Please forgive me,” is such a great formula for acknowledging sin! David uses a particular phrase in the end of verse 5: you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Not that the sin didn’t happen but the wrongness of it is forgiven. That is how the freedom comes: in full acknowledgement that wrong was done and yet that wrong can be fixed, can be overcome, can be forgiven by love. Has that happened to you? I think it’s very important that the detail of what I did wrong is spelled out to the person I’m asking to forgive me. I can say I’m sorry and yet not be sure that I’m talking about what hurt the other. Also, when I say what I did that was hurtful, the other can trust that I’ve thought about it from both sides. Genuine care can then flow back and forth and love is encouraged.

Therefore, because genuine repentance brings freedom of conscience and lightness of heart, restoring relationship, let the ones who seek God pray to him asap. When you’ve done wrong, be quick to repent! Then the problems that come (because the sin happened, or because others sin, or just because there are difficulties in this life) are mitigated by the relationship with God: he is my hiding place, he preserves me and delivers me. The short film (above) started with the word “ready” and touched off a chord in me that loves this song sung by Rich Mullins.

The last section of the psalm has God talking: I will instruct and teach you in the way you should go and counsel you with my eye on you! This would be creepy if the relationship isn’t right with God, but the next verse speaks to that also: don’t be like an animal that has to be harnessed in order to stay nearby: stay near to God willingly! Verse 10: “Many sorrows…and steadfast love…” it’s not that those who love the Lord don’t have sorrows but that they also have the surrounding love of God through the pain. So be glad and rejoice in the Lord, David says, for through his forgiveness and leading you are upright in heart!

All thanks and praise to God!

PoMo: Psalm 29

April is poetry month. I’m celebrating by reflecting on a psalm a day. Join me?

A Psalm of David.

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
    and strips the forests bare,
    and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Here’s My Soul Among Lions with their kickstarter video (that means they haven’t yet raised all the money to record an album, but it’s a sweet video with kids), and here’s Karl Kohlhase with a hymn-like melody with words closer to our text.

I’m writing this morning before church starts, so I’m just linking two versions and thinking about a short reflection. The VOICE of the Lord is very much highlighted in this psalm, and it comes right after a psalm asking God to hear, to speak. It might be odd to people who think of God as invisible, ignorable, absent, silent to read this psalm. What’s he talking about?

The psalm starts with a four paralleled call to ascribe to the Lord glory, and then he does so by talking about the voice of the Lord. Obviously this voice of the Lord is not a human voice and yet if humans are made in God’s image there is a likeness. The voice of the Lord is over the waters brings the biblically literate reader to the second verse of Genesis, where the Spirit of the Lord hovered over the waters as the Lord spoke creation into being. From there the psalm continues giving pictures of how God’s voice is powerful. In light of the power of the Lord, the psalm ends with the prayer to give strength to his people, to bless them with peace.

All thanks and praise to God!

PoMo: Psalm 27

April is poetry month. I’m celebrating by reflecting on a psalm a day. Join me?

Of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
    Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
    O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
    but the Lord will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    and lead me on a level path
    because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they breathe out violence.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

The positive and joyful recording of this psalm by Karl Kohlhase is great, although the picture is odd! (I think it’s supposed to be an angel army protecting the man who is reading God’s word.) Here’s Luke Lynass with the Psalms Project in a more meditative melody. Here’s a worship song by Jason Silver, and here’s Shane and Shane.

Once again my day interrupted my writing and this didn’t get finished until evening. In the between time, we have had an angst ridden day (the teenager wondering what her life is going to be) and a mother-daughter self defense class. That was interesting, for here we see in the psalm evildoers arising and David will not fear, but be confident. It’s good to know self-defense, to be prepared and have ideas of what to do (don’t get me wrong) but that is of secondary importance to a knowledge of God, seeking God in his glory, yearning to be with him. It reminds me of my favorite Rich Mullins song! The teen doesn’t know what will happen after graduation, the homemaker doesn’t know where her family will move, the mom doesn’t even know what to cook for dinner, but all alike can wait upon the Lord. It is always right to seek him in the confidence that he cares.

All thanks and praise to God!

PoMo: Psalm 20

April is poetry month. I’m celebrating by reflecting on a Psalm a day. Sometime I might post a poem of my own. Join me?

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings
    and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

May he grant you your heart’s desire
    and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
    and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
    he will answer him from his holy heaven
    with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
    but we rise and stand upright.

Lord, save the king!
    May he answer us when we call.

This morning I woke early (thanks to my dog who went back to sleep after going out) and I worried so much that I had to get up and pray. I can’t even begin to write about what I am struggling with. What a gift this psalm is in light of my need! It is a psalm to pray blessing over another (maybe a graduate? what perfect timing!) or to read as a blessing when you need it.

Here’s Karl Kohlhase singing a new musical setting, and here’s My Soul Among Lions, and here’s Aubrey Dale with the Psalms Project.

May I go on record again as being grateful for YouTube? Today’s searches were weird though; I do not know how it works, but with a second search the things I was looking for came up. Also I am very grateful for the idea of looking through psalms for poetry month. That must have been inspired by God who is helping me. They say everyone is going through something; is that true? If so, may you hear the words of this psalm as a blessing for you, may God indeed answer you in the day of trouble; may his love cast out your fear.

All thanks and praise to God!

(Apologies: I thought I published early this morning, and now I find I never hit the publish button! It’s been a rollercoaster day, emotionally, so I am very thankful it started with this Psalm. God bless you.)

PoMo: Psalm 16

April is poetry month. I’m celebrating by reflecting on a Psalm a day. Sometime I might post a poem of my own. Join me?

A Miktam of David.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

This is a very special psalm to me from 2008, when my daughter was reading in her CEV Bible and loved this psalm. On November 13, during dinner, a neighbor pounded on our door to say there was a wildfire and we should all take refuge in the college gym or head down to the ocean. In about 10 minutes we had packed and were in the back seat of the car while my husband was helping my dad get his computer packed and my daughter asked me if we would be all right. I ran back in for her Bible (!) and read this psalm to her and she visibly calmed (it was amazing). Then the men came and we drove to the fire-safe gym where we spent the night while our neighborhood was scorched and random homes burned to the ground, although not ours. Here’s the psalm in the CEV:

Protect me, Lord God!
    I run to you for safety,
and I have said,
    “Only you are my Lord!
    Every good thing I have
    is a gift from you.”

Your people are wonderful,
    and they make me happy,
    but worshipers of other gods
    will have much sorrow.
I refuse to offer sacrifices
of blood to those gods
    or worship in their name.

You, Lord, are all I want!
    You are my choice,
    and you keep me safe.
You make my life pleasant,
    and my future is bright.

I praise you, Lord,
    for being my guide.
Even in the darkest night,
    your teachings fill my mind.
I will always look to you,
    as you stand beside me
    and protect me from fear.
With all my heart,
I will celebrate,
    and I can safely rest.

10 I am your chosen one.
You won’t leave me in the grave
    or let my body decay.
11 You have shown me
    the path to life,
    and you make me glad
    by being near to me.
Sitting at your right side,
    I will always be joyful.

Here is a musical version by My Soul Among Lions, and here’s a gentle setting from Shane and Shane, and here’s a more rocking version from the Shiyr Poets and here’s a lovely version with gorgeous nature video by Jason Silver and here’s Rachelle Hope with the Psalms Project. Which one best interprets the psalm for you?

I think, although we are back to a plea for God to protect in the first verse, that unlike the previous psalms that were half anxious about evildoers, this psalm spends much more time in praise and gratitude. Yes, verse 4 points out those who run after other gods, and declares David’s refusal to follow suit, but the driving force of the psalm is really a celebration of relationship with God, a gratitude for what God has done and will do that remembers and restores faith. This psalm is worth memorizing, and if you have even a little bit of time, watch the first five minutes of this sermon by John Piper where he recites the psalm before preaching on it. I am so thankful for YouTube!

All thanks and praise to God!

PoMo: Psalm 7

April is poetry month. I’m celebrating by reflecting on a Psalm a day. Sometime I might post a poem of my own. Join me?

A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite.

Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
    save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
    rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.

Lord my God, if I have done this,
    if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
    or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
    and let him trample my life to the ground
    and lay my glory in the dust. Selah

Arise, O Lord, in your anger;
    lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
    awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
    over it return on high.

The Lord judges the peoples;
    judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness
    and according to the integrity that is in me.
Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
    and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
    O righteous God!
10 My shield is with God,
    who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
    and a God who feels indignation every day.

12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;
    he has bent and readied his bow;
13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
    making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
    and is pregnant with mischief
    and gives birth to lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out,
    and falls into the hole that he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head,
    and on his own skull his violence descends.

17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
    and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

A search to hear Psalm 7 sung on YouTube didn’t turn up much until I looked it up in the Psalter and then searched for the title, O Lord My God, from You Alone Comes Aid, and then found this recording (I include lyrics because they aren’t always clear):

1 O Lord my God, from you alone comes aid./Save me from those who make me sore afraid,/who like a lion, stalk and drag me off,/while no one comes to save me or to help./What have I done, O Lord, I cry, that I should die?

2 If I have been unfair to friends or foes,/if on my hands the soil of malice shows,/if there are wrongs that still must be undone,/then let those foes who stalk my steps come near/to trample me until I lie in dust to die.

3 Against my foes in furious anger rise,/and show yourself as judge before all eyes./O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts,/try me according to my righteousness./Defend, Lord, my integrity with your decree.

4 The Lord, my judge, will surely come to save,/while stubborn hearts will know his righteous wrath./His sharpened sword is quick; his arrows flame/and threaten those conceiving, spawning sin,/who in the traps they have prepared themselves are snared.

5 Because the Lord in every time and place/brings his salvation, justice, mercy, grace,/I will in every thought and deed and word/give thanks and praise to God, the righteous Lord./No other gift can satisfy the Lord Most High.

This metrical hymn (metrical: putting the meaning of a psalm into words that fit a meter, what we are used to as poetry) by Marie J Post is itself a lovely commentary on our psalm of the day. Her rhyme scheme is quite interesting: the first two lines of text rhyme, (I put slashes between lines) but then the next lines don’t rhyme at all, sort of marching on with a kind of difficulty that matches their meaning except for in the last verse where word rhymes with Lord at least visually if not in pronunciation. But then each ends with an internal rhyme, a close couplet that reminds me of George Herbert’s poetry.

If you would like to hear another version, this is more meditative and also quite a lovely reflection that is true to Psalm 7, in my opinion. The interesting difference between this an the hymn version is that this one is solitary singing, much like listening to David pour out his heart to God. This one is what you’d want to listen to and pray along, but the other is important when the community sings the psalms together. This version also is less attentive to the words of the whole psalm but focuses (as we would like to) more on the Lord as refuge without dwelling on the details of pain. This one, on the other hand, is equally compelling musically but more close to the psalm’s wording. Which would you prefer? I think the first is easier to learn and sing along. But then if you have time for one more, listen to this Hebrew recording with the English given below.

I don’t have much personal commentary on this psalm except to say that it isn’t from foes that I take refuge in God today but from my own fears and my temptation, in my fear, to attack others. Let me not be numbered with the wicked, Lord, who dig a pit and fall into it, but walk in the path of your provision with gratitude and praise your name.

All thanks and praise to God Most High!

PoMo: Psalm 4

April is poetry month. I’m celebrating by reflecting on a Psalm a day, and perhaps posting a poem of my own. Join me? 

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
    How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

This mug quotes Psalm 4:7 although just the first part of the verse.

IMG_0245

But often a quote of just the first part alludes to the whole, as Ephesians 4:26 quotes the first part of Psalm 4:4 (I never saw that before today.):

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, (Eph. 4:26)

Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. (Ps. 4:4)

Do they inform each other? I think so, and from what I learned yesterday about working through a desperate situation by prayer, I think this pondering in your heart on your bed and being silent has a limit: work it through with God and then go to sleep in peace. The sun going down on your anger reminds me not of going to bed but of the Hebrew day ending with sunset: don’t carry over from one day to the next anger or grudge. I sure am guilty of that one! But bless the Lord, he has also answered my prayers to pull bitter roots and restore my heart so many, many times.

He has put more joy in my heart this past weekend than any drunk party goer can rival. Easter Vigil with its candlelight, 12 miracle readings and sung Psalms, affirmation of baptism, and earliest service of resurrection is the best party ever, in my opinion, growing my heart in faith and in love toward other believers gathered and absent. But all three services (Good Friday and Easter morning too) were amazing and filled with God’s love poured out on his people gathered there. How has God poured joy into your heart, more than you can express lately? If not lately, when was it the most ever?

Last reflection: Psalm 4:8 is a verse I first encountered in a little book of Bible verses and illustrations for my baby girl. Reading it to her, I began to appreciate this verse so much. Getting to sleep can be a challenge for some more than others, but all of us can affirm that it is God who makes us to dwell in safety. I’d like a mug with that verse on it, to drink my evening cup of tea before bed! Maybe I’ll have to visit one of those paint-your-own-pottery stores and design one. In the meantime, if you see what I have in mind, please send a picture or link in the comments.

All thanks and praise to God!