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Return to the Lord

Many drivers rely on the help of a GPS (Global Positioning System) device to get to their destination. The beauty of this technology is that it adapts to your mistakes. When you make a wrong turn, it tells you what you need to do to return to the right path. The Bible does the same for us. When we stray from God's path, it shows us what steps we need to take to return to the right one. The Bible is the primary tool God's Spirit uses to keep us on track in our daily lives.

This month we will study the book of Zechariah. Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai and ministered to the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Zechariah’s grandfather Iddo was among those exiles who returned with Joshua and Zerubbabel. By the time Zechariah began his prophetic ministry, the building project had ground to a halt. Delayed by opposition from enemies and the demands of day-to-day living, the returning exiles had become more concerned with their own affairs than with God. For this reason, the book begins with an appeal to those who had returned to Jerusalem to return to the Lord as well (v. 3).

Zechariah’s opening prophecy reminds us of the need to serve God from the heart. Even when we follow the rules, our hearts may be disengaged (Mark 7:6–8). Sometimes, like the returned exiles, we may substitute God’s priorities with our own. We can be

very religious and still be far from God. Staying on the right path isn’t just about following the rules. It begins with the heart. When our hearts go wrong, our lives will not be far behind.

Apply the Word

As we begin this month’s study, take stock of your heart. Is it in the right place? This is probably not a determination you can make on your own. Proverbs 21:2 warns: “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Ask God to use His Word to reveal the state of your heart.

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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