On “The Plain of Ono”

When Nehemiah heard the call of God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he stayed focused on the task at hand and did not let any distractions derail him. The opposition, led by Sanbellat and Geshem, did not want the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt and did everything in their power to distract Nehemiah from the work God had set before him.

Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” (Nehemiah 6:2)

A distraction is anything that pulls your attention away from something you are focused on.  In today’s message, I am using “the plain of Ono” as a metaphor for anything that the devil uses to distract God’s people from doing God’s work. The devil uses everything at his disposal to disrupt and derail our devotion to God. We must never forget that our enemy “seeks to kill, to steal, and to destroy” (John 10:10); “he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44), and he will use any and all means at his disposal to destroy our desire and our ability to serve the Lord our God.

So what should be our response?

They were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. (Nehemiah 6:2-4)

When the devil sends his distractions our way, we should respond in the same way that Nehemiah did: “Oh no! I will not go down that path!” Perhaps a tweet or a text disrupts your focus; maybe it’s an email or an Instagram post that distracts your attention. Whenever anything comes up that will steal our focus from what God has called us to do, we must respond, “Oh no! I will not go!” What rules the heart shapes the life. We need to keep our focus on Jesus and establish clear guardrails that keep us from being derailed from what are called to do.

Think about the areas in your life that are most distracting right now and resolve to minimize them or remove them altogether. This practice will automatically increase your devotion to Jesus and advance your progress in the work He has called you to do.

Here is a question that has helped me greatly over the years, and it may well help to sharpen your focus also: “Is what I am choosing to do right now the absolute best use of my time?” Remember, there is a season for every activity under heaven — a time for devotion and a time for a bit of distraction. The key that unlocks the door leading to living the life God has called you to live is to know when there is too much distraction that is driving you toward “the plain of Ono.”

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


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