Hebrews 12:1-4 (NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.   3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.

DEVOTION – Gretchen Havercamp Stults (New Jersey)

While wandering through a turtle rescue center, I marveled at the great variety of turtles.  They ranged in size from three inches to three feet, all swimming happily in their assigned tanks – many of them with only one flipper or one eye.

Several turtles swimming in a fresh-water tank particularly intrigued me.  On their shells were barnacles that had attached themselves to the turtles and had flourished in salt water.  The effects of these barnacles can range from stress to the turtle – due to increased surface drag when the turtle swims – to more serious damage from bacterial or fungal infections.  However, now that these turtles had been transferred to fresh water, the barnacles were no longer being nourished and so would eventually disappear.

Like those turtles, we are sometimes weighted down by burdens.  Whether out of indifference or ill nature or traveling with the wrong crowd or ignoring God’s nudges, we create an environment that feeds the “barnacles” or resentment, hatred, irreverence, jealousy, materialism, and other damaging traits.  But if we change our spiritual environment, the attitudes of our sinful nature will no longer thrive.  When we live in an environment shaped by God’s word and surrounded by God’s people, we can focus on the fruit of the Spirit.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: What “barnacles” keep me from living fully for God?

PRAYER:  Gracious God, lead us onto the paths that help us to live the life you envision for us.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: Wildlife Conservators