SATURDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER, 2018
THEME: UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES
TEXT: 1 CHRONICLES 12:23-32
MEMORY VERSE: ECCLESIASTES 3:1 “To everything, there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven”.

You waste time, you lose everything”. This is a popular maxim. The whole life of mankind and history are controlled by time. Show me anything in this world that is not time-bound? Is it kingdom, regime, administration, government, even the life of man? David might not have committed adultery if he had walked and followed the principle of time usage (2 Samuel 11:1-ff).

Time is of great essence and value. The Bible records of the children of Issachar that they were only two hundred men and, by virtue of their understanding of the times, they were the ones that commanded their brethren. (1 Chronicles 12:32). We are now in the end-time. This is the time that we need to work and walk as wise men and women and not as fools (Ephesians 5:15-18). No doubt, the signs and happenings around us signify this. Time is running out but we need to keep standing with Christ so that we shall not fall victims of the perils of the end-times. (Ephesians 5:1-7). Let us learn from the children of Issachar.

HYMN: EMHB 810 – FATHER, LET THY KINGDOM COME
PRAYER: Gracious Father, I understand that I am living in the end-time. Help me to walk with You till the end of the age. (Amen).

FRIDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER, 2018
THEME: POWER TO BE LIKE HIM
TEXT: PHILIPPIANS 3:7-11
MEMORY VERSE: PHILIPPIANS 3:10 “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death”.

In the world, over the years I have seen musicians giving birth to children who take after them in the field of music. Presently, we see terrorists recruiting teenagers and youths in order to train them in acts of terrorism. Some of these youths and children are even used as suicide bombers in certain cases. As Christians, God expects us to be like Him. He didn’t stop at that; He provides us with the power to become like Him. How? (John 1:12-13). In order to get the power to become like Him, faith is very essential (Hebrews 11:6, Philippians 3:9). To also get this power, humility is very important (Philippians 3:7-8). Another essential requirement for this power is righteousness which comes from God as opposed to our own self-righteousness. (Philippians 3:9).

This same power enables us to be conformed to His image i.e. to become Christ-like which is the primary essence of Christianity. It is God, through the power of His Holy Spirit that bestows on us the power to be like Him. Halleluyah!

HYMN: EMHB 553 -COME, HOLY GHOST, ALL QUICKENING FIRE …
PRAYER: Faithful Lord, grant me the grace not to take Your resurrection with levity in Jesus’ name I pray.

THURSDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER, 2018
THEME: HOLY COMMUNION
TEXT: I CORINTHIANS 11:20-34
MEMORY VERSE: 1 COR. 11:25 “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. These do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

The Holy Communion is a meal which is taken by Christians in remembrance of the death of Jesus Christ. It is also known as the Lord’s Supper, the Sacrament, or the Eucharist. Some have argued concerning the time when it was originally taken as being in the night but the truth is that today, the time we take it is not so important. Rather the condition of the communicant’s heart must be right with God, else there will be serious consequences. (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).

The Holy Communion is the New Testament concept of the Passover feast which the Israelites celebrated before leaving Egypt (Exodus 12:1-28). The Passover feast was instituted in Egypt to mark the passing over of the Jewish houses when the first-born of all the Egyptians were slain. It begins on the 14th day of Nisan (Abib) our April. Similarly, the Holy Communion is a holy feast instituted by Jesus Christ to concretize the fellowship between Him and His disciples. (Matthew 26:26-30). Each time the Holy Communion is celebrated, it is a remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Luke 22:14-20, 33). Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb that was slain in the Old Testament.

The Lord’s Super is one of the 12 things the Corinthians Church asked Paul to shed light on. The Lord’s Supper must not be taken unworthily. Before the Holy Communion is taken, the partaker must examine himself or herself to see if he/she is fit to take it; There must be no idol in the heart of the partaker else there would be serious consequences if taken unworthily.

HYMN: EMHB 763 – ACCORDING TO THY GRACIOUS WORD,
PRAYER: Dear Lord, as I feast at Your table, help me to remember that You died for my sins, and let me resurrect with You ever more in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

By: ’Funmilola Olukomaiya
Source: my.notjustok.com
Date: September 05, 2018

This almost five minutes of music has dynamics, sprinkled with sustained flowing lines and rich, resonant chords. It is also a passive number that exudes subtle rhythmic intensity yet simple with no sense of adventure. It is easily relatable and with a slow tempo and consistent rhythm; one can conclude that the mood of the song was well handled.

The song has a slow introduction, one that is passive and a bit longer than necessary. The intro is somewhat woven into what can be perceived as the solo of the song. It left me wondering what the song was about until it began. Unlike some intros that are atmospheric and capture your imagination from the start as they establish a good beat that sets up the song, this is like a regular worship song. The song relayed what an intro is supposed to do: lead into the song naturally. Also, it leads awkwardly into the main part of the song. There is nothing special about the intro.

‘So good to me’ creates a subtle, rhythmic, pronouncing sound that is quite inspirational. The rich and resonant keyboard melody and the crisp and exact percussion soothes the scene throughout, as the main theme is somewhat developed. This composition would make for a good congregational worship song.

Yet, it is tuneful and interesting, the kind of tune (melody) that is easy to remember. Commercially, the song carries a sticky quality, one that you can’t get out of your head for days. The singer’s (lead) vocal quality is rich, not thin as she expressively relays the lyrics supported by equally sound voice texture with great vocal quality – comfortable with the high notes as the modulation was well conducted without going screechy in the harmonization.

Whilst there is no solid beat and strong engaging rhythm that grabs you and carries you along, the rhythmic effects are flowing, subtle and pronounced and at the same time, consistent and convincing too. The song doesn’t have a rich variety of interesting instruments, not exactly distinctive and memorable. The arrangement is averagely tasteful and suits the mood of the song.

The song is not accompanied with any expressive musical instrument, but the artist made it interesting by varying the rhythm and dynamics and also avoided a boring mechanical strum throughout.

Although digital effects can be striking and really enhance a song, in this piece, the musician didn’t overuse them. Its use enhanced the song; not overused rather, made it sound rich and not amateurish. The digital effects were used to enhance the musical quality. What is also striking is that the lyrics of the song is easy to make out. There is clarity of words and diction; easy flow of words with no confusion or unnecessary semantic noise. The songwriter chose words and phrases that are relatable with sound and natural rhythmic quality.

The song is slow and can put you to sleep except you’re familiar with it. Lyrics are original – except for its predictability. The song ended on a note that left me wondering if the pitch of the song was about to be taken higher – wasn’t conclusive.

Overall, the singer is natural, talented and professional; and the song, good to the ears.

WESDNESDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER, 2018
THEME: THE POWER OF VISION
TEXT: GENESIS 15:1-6
MEMORY VERSE: GENESIS 15:5 “Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. And He said to him so shall your descendants be”. Eyes that look are common, but eyes that see are rare,” so says Myles Munroe.

Vision is a mental picture of where you wish to be in future. As God was talking to Abraham, He wanted him to envision his future not minding where he was at that time. At the time he was called, Abraham had virtually almost lost all hope of giving birth to a child (Genesis 15:1-3). God brought Abraham outside and asked him to look toward heaven and count the stars (Genesis 15:5). In other words, God wanted him to envision his future with many descendants.

The following will help you actualize your vision:
1. Faith in God (Genesis 15:6, Hebrews 11:6)
2. Maintaining a good relationship with God. (Genesis 15:1)
3. Always looking towards heaven (Genesis 15:5, Psalm 121:1-2) because He is the Chief Promoter of People who labour diligently.

No one can succeed in life without an adequate vision for his/her life. Vision is a function of what you can see, so see right (well) so that God will bring the vision to fruition. (Jeremiah 1:11-12). See yourself at the top and work and pray towards it..

HYMN: EMHB 256 -THERE’S A LIGHT UPON THE MOUNTAIN
PRAYER: Dear Lord, open my eyes and let me run carefully and steadily with the vision You have given me.

TUESDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER, 2018
THEME: WHAT MANNER OF MAN IS JESUS?
TEXT: JOHN 11:38 – 44
MEMORY VERSE: JOHN 11:25-26 “Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?

“What manner of man is Jesus? Halleluiah! 2ce
He made the blind to see? Halleluiah!
He made the dead to rise, Halleluiah!

So goes a popular chorus. Jesus vividly demonstrated here that He was not only the Son of God but that He is God in human flesh (John 11:25). What ordinary man could raise a decomposing corpse of four days? What manner of man would intentionally wait for a man to die before He visited him to raise him up? (John 11:3-6, 14-17). What kind of man would walk on the sea and not sink? What kind of man will die and rise again the third day? What manner of man will, after rising from the dead, show Himself of people and even eat and talk with them?

Certainly, this son of a carpenter is God in human flesh – a man who wept at Lazarus’ tomb! He wept not only because He loved Lazarus but also because of the people’s unbelief in His ability to raise Lazarus from the dead. From the tomb which Jesus eventually raised Lazarus up from signifying that He has power over death.

Many prophets spoke about the birth of Jesus Christ hundreds of years before He was actually born. He was the Son of God worshipped here on earth and in heaven by the angelic hosts and He is the only One who will judge the living and the dead at the close of age. Without His approval, nobody will be able to enter the New Jerusalem. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Hallelujah.

HYMN: EMHB 86 – STRONG SON OF GOD, IMMORTAL LOVE
PRAYER: Oh Lord, let the same power with which You raised Lazarus from the dead, raise up every dead goodness in my life. Amen.

MONDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER, 2018
THEME: WISE OR FOOLISH?
TEXT: MATTHEW 25:1-13
MEMORY VERSE: MATTHEW 25:8 “And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out”

Too much familiarity brings too much contempt” is a popular saying. Such is the plight of these foolish virgins (Matthew 25:2-3). They were too familiar with the workings of the bridegroom to the extent that they abandoned the right thing they ought to have done. (Matthew 25:3-4). The bridegroom was Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is coming back again to judge the quick and the dead (Matthew 25:6).

The ten virgins represent Christians. Note that the mere fact that they are all virgins signifies a level of purity and piety. But five of them were wise while five of them were foolish; hence we have wise Christians and foolish Christians. Wise Christians never take God for granted like the foolish virgins did. (Matthew 25:4). The oil represents the grace to walk in the strength of the Holy Spirit. It is either you have the oil or not. It can not be bought, it can only be sought and put to use so that the lamp of God’s Word keeps burning in our hearts to always please God (Matthew 25:8-10, Psalm 119:105).

As we journey towards the end of this year, let us be wise in seeking the Lord at the right time. The time that the foolish virgins went out was ill-timed for them (Read Isaiah 55:6-9 and compare with Matthew 25:10-11). We need to be prepared for the Lord’s second coming which may be every near than we expect (Matthew 25:13).

HYMN: EMHB 638- TO GOD, THE ONLY WISE
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me not to be wise in my own eyes and in preparing for Your second coming, let me neither fail nor falter.

SUNDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER, 2018
THEME: WHERE ARE THE DORCASES?
TEXT: ACTS 9:36-43
MEMORY VERSE: ACT 9:39 “Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made while she was with them”

One good turn deserves another,” is an age-long saying. No wonder Dorcas after she was declared dead, was brought back to life by Peter, through the power of the Holy
There are some lessons to be learnt from this Bible text. They are as follow:
(i) Dorcas was a born- again disciple (She was born-again).
(ii) She was also full of good works and charitable deeds (Acts 9:36).
(iii) When there was a problem with Dorcas, the other disciples did not waste time in assisting her. (Act 9:38)
(iv) Peter also did not delay in going with the other disciples when he heard of the evil that befell Dorcas (Act 9:39).
(v) Even in death, the good works of Dorcas were evident (Act 9:39).

How wonderful will this world be if it were full of Dorcases? As parents, how are we raising our children, especially the females? I say this because Dorcas was an epitome of the virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10-31). Her life was full of service and dedication to others (Act 9:39).

Where are the Dorcases of our time? As a man or woman God has blessed, how many people have you helped? Have you even spent your wealth for the propagation of the gospel? Remember, we are to help the needy and put smiles on their faces and not to mock or oppress them.

HYMN: EMHB 599 – SOW IN THE MORN THY SEED…
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to show kindness to people everywhere I find myself.

SATURDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER, 2018
THEME: LOVING THE UNLOVABLE
TEXT: MATTHEW 5:43-48
MEMORY VERSE: MATTHEW 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”

Is it really possible to love one’s enemies? Humanly speaking, this is not possible but scripturally speaking, it is what we are commanded to do as Christians even though it seems difficult. (Matthew 5:43-44).Part of the characteristics of what entitles us as Christians to be called the children of God is when we exhibit love to those who are unlovable (Matthew 5:45). According to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Love is the only force that is capable of transforming an enemy into a friend”.

Truly speaking, it is very difficult to love someone who is one’s enemy (Matthew 5:43). But it is practicable and possible. Proverbs 25:21-22 says when you give your enemy food or water, you heap coals of fire on his head and the Lord shall reward you. That is why we are commanded to be perfect even as our heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48).

We need to remember that Christ loved us even before we ever come to know Him. Such is the love He expects us to display to those we see as “unlovable” because God is Love! (Read 1 John 4:8-11, 15-16). If you say that you love God but hates someone around you, you are, no doubt, a liar. Let us love one another for Christ’s sake.

HYMN: EMHB 73 – MY GOD, HOW WONDERFUL THOU ART…
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please give me the grace to love my enemies even though they appear unlovable, and pray for their change of heart.

Sometimes called machine intelligence, Artificial intelligence (AI), is the intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals.

Cleverbot is a chatbot modelled after the human behaviour and able to hold a conversation by remembering words from conversations. Also, Artificial intelligence is built to be pervasive. It’s embedded in iPhone’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, which are apps designed to answer questions (albeit in a limited way).

Just as Christians seek wisdom and offer leadership on other basic issues, we also need ways to understand Artificial intelligence.

As Christians who study the social impacts of technology, we do not pretend to have answers. We offer this overview of issues raised by AI in the hope that Christians will be inspired to find new ways to follow Christ faithfully and serve the common good using artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence powers the code that translates Facebook posts into multiple languages. It is part of the algorithm that allows Amazon to suggest products to specific users. The AI that is enmeshed in current technology is task-based, or “weak AI.”

Weak AI is the code written to help humans do specific jobs, using a machine as an intermediary. It is intelligent because it can improve how it performs tasks while collecting data on its interactions. Speculation about the future of intelligent machines has run rampant in the intervening decades but recently has taken a more critical turn.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer imaginary, and the implications of its future development are far-reaching. As computer scientists confirm their intent to push the limits of AI capabilities, religious communities and thinkers are also debating how far AI should go and what should happen as it becomes part of the fabric of everyday life.

When researchers coined the term “artificial intelligence” (AI), they hoped that every feature of learning and intelligence could be conducted by a machine. Over six decades later, their question remains unanswered, even as AI has become a common presence in our everyday lives and our visions of the future. Artificial intelligence is fast becoming a basic fact of our lives, an invention like money or democracy that poses complex, enduring questions for practical life, the common good, and our basic ideas of personhood.

At this point, artificial intelligence is simply a tool for improving human experience.

Strong AI, by definition though, is human-like in intelligence and ability. Its development would force humans to reconsider how to appropriately interact with this technology—what rights the machines should be afforded, for instance, if their intelligence affords them a designation beyond that of mere tools.

While concerns mostly centre on economics, government, and ethics, there’s also “a spiritual dimension to what we’re making,” Kevin Kelly an advocate for the development of “a catechism for robots” argues. “If you create other things that think for themselves, a serious theological disruption will occur.”

According to the Bible, technology is humanity’s age-old way of extending power over creation, of imposing order on the created order and “subduing” it as God commanded in Genesis. This is a good and right endeavour.

But as with all good things, technology can be abused and used for sinful purposes. If we are not careful, AI can easily become a modern attempt to achieve what those who constructed the Tower of Babel, and indeed Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit, sought – the attributes of God.

In Genesis 3, there are a multitude of sins wrapped into Adam and Eve’s disobedience. But behind their disobedience was a basic sinful desire: to achieve equality with God.

The Bible teaches that we are to be God-like in a moral sense, but not in an axiological sense (that is, in terms of absolute value). Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people are taught to imitate God in character — to “be holy, as I am holy” (Leviticus 20:26).

This carries over into the New Testament where Christians are exhorted to “imitate Christ” (Philippians 2). But this moral obligation rests on a basic ontological fact: We ourselves are creatures, not God. We are to imitate God’s moral nature precisely because he is God, and we are not.

The fact that we are simply creatures next to the creator God is echoed in the Tower of Babel. There, humanity together conspires to “make a name” for itself by constructing a great tower toward the heavens.

Sure, technology was employed in this project, but the motive was not merely to impose order on creation or to make life easier. This was a statement of self-importance, a project that reflected a hunger for supreme status in the universe.

What happened next is instructive for AI. God would not be mocked; seeing that humanity was conspiring against Him, He thwarted their goals by confusing their language, thereby condemning their project to ruin. This resulted in a judgment on humanity that brought humanity lower than it previously was. Just as Adam and Eve sinned and were cursed, the nations sinned at Babel and were driven apart from one another. In grasping for divinity, they pushed themselves further from God.

This curse is most fully manifest in Revelation 19 with the destruction of Babylon. There, the city of man crumbles to decay under God’s judgment, whereas the city of God in Revelation 5 is blessed for all eternity.

When humanity grasps for God-like status, it is condemning itself to God’s curse. This applies for all history, including today in the pursuit of AI. In conspiring to create AI that takes on divine attributes, such as omniscience, the only outcome can be failure — and judgment.

Christians must be at the forefront of figuring out where we stand in this brave new world, and AI is one front to which we have given far too little thought.