John the Baptist said, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire.” Getting ready for Jesus means trimming deadwood. What does that mean for us?

What is it that you need to trim? Anything that causes you to rely upon something other than God. When we say trim the deadwood, we are not talking about breaking associations with people who are not good for you. We are not talking about dropping bad habits. When we say trim the deadwood, we are talking about anything that causes you to rely upon something other than God.

There may be something in your life, some status, some identity, some achievement, some accomplishment, some ability, some possession, that you may be relying upon to justify your existence and earn your salvation. I’m not talking about something bad in your life. I’m not talking about some bad habit that you need to drop. I’m talking about something good in your life that you are relying upon for something that it cannot do for you. When I am talking about trimming deadwood, I’m not talking about getting rid of something good in your life. I’m talking about the danger relying on the good thing in your life rather than relying upon God. We are all for self-improvement. We want to be mature, healthy followers of Jesus. We want to be better husbands, wives, parents, neighbors, employers, employees, neighbors, citizens. We want to develop our abilities and use them for God’s purpose for our lives. We want to be good people. But we don’t rely on being good. We rely upon the mercy of God made known in Jesus Christ.

In our sermon this Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent, we will look at the message of John the Baptist, and how he tells us to trim the deadwood in our life, so that we may be ready to receive Jesus.