Time Alone With God daily devotional

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Written by Pastor Phil Stout of JAXNAZ Church

Monday, October 17

Read: Matthew 3:1-17

Matthew 3
New International Version (NIV)

John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”[a]
4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize you with[b] water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”


Consider: As Matthew introduces us to John the Baptizer, he repeatedly makes it clear what John was preaching—repentance.

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’” (3:1-2)

“…he said to them…‘Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.’” (3:7-8)

“I baptize you with water for repentance.” (3:11)

Repentance is an often misunderstood concept. People tend to see repentance as synonymous with confession. Confession of our sins is certainly a part of repentance, but repentance is so much more. Simply put, to repent is to turn around. It is to change directions. It is not about living in the regrets of the past, but about hope for the future. It means stepping into the new life that God has for us and following a different path.

This brings a complete change in the way we think, in the way we prioritize, in what we value most, in how we determine our ethics, and in what comprises the center of our universe. That’s why Paul said…

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This repentance that John preached was such a radical thing that it was to be marked with a strange, but wonderful event—water baptism. This beautiful sacrament carries with it the image of cleansing. That’s why it is a celebration. We are washed, not by the water, but by the Spirit. This submission to the water is a sign of our repentance, his forgiveness and our cleansing from sin.

You can see John’s reticence to baptize Jesus. He knew that Jesus needed neither repentance nor forgiveness. But Jesus chose to become one of us and for that reason he said to John, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this…” (Matthew 3:15).

Later, the work of Christ would infuse even more meaning into this simple act of submitting to the water and submitting to the Holy Spirit.

Pray: Praise the Lord for forgiveness and cleansing. Ask him to help you today to walk in the joy of knowing that your sins are forgiven. Thank him that repentance is not about our regrets of the past. Instead it empowers us to live in joy today and in hope for tomorrow.

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