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Jonathan Bernis - Renew Your MInd


Jonathan Bernis - Renew Your MInd

Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to "Jewish Voice," and thank you for joining me today. I'm Jonathan Bernis, and I'm joined by my co-host, Ezra Benjamin. Well, we're living in unprecedented times. I can only speak for myself, but we're living through more chaos, uncertainty, misinformation, and instability than I've experienced in my lifetime. Maybe you feel the same way. How do we get through it? How do we navigate through all of the confusion? Here's one answer - the Bible. This is our constant. It guides us through the muck and mire towards the truth and the solution, and Ezra, that's why we're devoting a discussion today to why the Word of God is so important. There is a solution out there.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. It seems like such a simple foundational topic, Jonathan, but if we get away from it, we stray from what we know to be truth, and not just truth for today, enduring truth for forever. It's a compass. It's an anchor.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, the simplest truths are the ones that we need to keep reminding ourselves of, over and over again, because we forget.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And the enemy tries to rob the seed continually. But there are some basic, fundamental truths that we follow as followers of the Messiah, and one of them is understanding that this is our source of information. This is our guidebook, this is the owner's manual, and we have to get back to it.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. The one who made us actually said this is what's true and what's not true - not just how we feel, not just what we think. The media is happy to tell us lots of things to think, depending on which station you watch, but this is the enduring truth. This is really the true north, if you will, that years ago, I felt like the Lord just spoke to me very clearly, Jonathan, that the Bible would be my compass. And in what we're doing in Jewish Voice, reaching Jewish communities around the world, our compass, our true north, are the promises he has made, which endure.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, I'm looking around, Ezra, and I'm seeing God's people in a state of despair.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: In a state of chaos and confusion. And I've found myself, honestly, and I'm just being Frank, in that situation, and I've come to realize, repeatedly, it's a flood of wrong information. And I won't mention things like Facebook - well, I already did. But there's information overload and there's a lot of misinformation on both sides. This isn't about politics. This isn't about propaganda. This is about information coming at us too fast.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And I don't know what's true. I have trouble sorting everything out, but one thing I know is this is true, this is a constant, and we have to get back into this.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. Jesus, Yeshua, prayed for his followers, for his disciples, and he said, "Father, sanctify them by your truth," and to sanctify is to set apart as holy. And then, he says, "Your word is truth," right? So, Jesus is praying in the garden that the father would set apart his sons and daughters unto holiness, and the way that we're set apart is by living in truth - by absorbing, by actually digesting truth. And then, he's very clear in the next verse, "Your word is that truth".

Jonathan Bernis: Amen. Amen. Ezra, I want to talk about some very specific reasons. I want to look at scripture at some very specific reasons why and what we get out of the Word of God - why should we be reading the word, studying the word, confessing the word, and what specifically we can expect out of it. Because the Bible is very clear about why it's so important, why the scriptures are so important.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. Well, let's dive in, Jonathan.

Jonathan Bernis: Okay.

Ezra Benjamin: And let's look at those reasons.

Jonathan Bernis: All right, and I'm going to put the scriptures up as I discuss them. So, the first one is renewal of the mind, and this comes from Romans 12:2. We'll put it up on the screen. It says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind". "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing, and perfect will". Well, how do you do that? How do you come to a place where you know the will of God? How do you experience this transformation of the mind? And this is such an important concept, the idea that our mind is not sanctified. I wake up in the morning and I need a cleansing. I need a renewing. My spirit may be in a good place with the Lord, in communion with the Lord, but my mind falls into enmity, right?

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: The natural progression of the mind away from God and dealing with hardship, and adversity, and information, bad information, is to slip back into a state of unbelief, and we need the mind to be renewed. Well, we do that through communion with God, which is prayer, and through the Word of God.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: So, we're actually washing our mind.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. And Jonathan, what stands out to me in the scripture you just read in Romans 12 is that there's no middle ground. I think sometimes that's one of the great deceptions, right? Is that we can just stay the way we are, just status quo, neutral, kind of coast towards eternity, but that's not what Paul's saying here. He's saying you have two choices. You either are conformed to the way the world thinks and what the world defines as truth, or you're transformed by the enduring truth of the Word of God. These are our two choices.

Jonathan Bernis: Right, and I can't think of a more polarizing time for the mind than now. We turn on the news, we hear nothing but bad information, misinformation.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: We're dealing with painful circumstances around us - political division, social division, economic instability - and the mind is absorbing all of this. Well, what we need to do is transform our minds by getting into the Word of God, and it works. It really does work.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: So, that's how we do it. We do it by prayer and ingesting of the Word of God, and when that happens, we can experience a soundness that actually takes hold of our mind, and we can make decisions that are based on spiritual reality, not what I see and hear around me, but the greater reality of God's truth.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, I don't know about you, Jonathan. I need to be transformed. I don't want to conform to all of the supposed truth coming at me from every direction. I want to be transformed by the enduring truth of the Word of God.

Jonathan Bernis: For sure. We're what we ingest.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: So, if we're listening to all of this chaos, misinformation, information overload, and how bad it is, and uncertain and chaotic it is, we're going to actually experience that.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: In our spirit. That's why we have to renew our mind, because the Bible has a completely different picture. God's in control, right? He's on the throne. He has everything under control. There's good news, no weapon formed against me will prosper.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: That's what we ingest.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely. And Jonathan, I think another thing we need that's found in the word is discernment, and I'm thinking of Hebrews 4. Let me read it for us. It says, "For the Word of God is alive and active," or "Living and active," some translations say. "Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow: it judges the thoughts and the attitudes of the heart". What I notice here in this verse, Jonathan, one is that the word is alive. It's not just words on a page, unmoving, inactive since thousands of years ago. It's actually a living thing and it's on the move.

Jonathan Bernis: And I really get excited about this one because this is the way that you navigate through the misinformation, and this is the way that you navigate through motives. Who do I believe? Who do I trust? What do I believe?

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: How do I get through this difficult situation, this relationship? The answer is we can navigate through by discerning based on the Word of God, based on what happens when we ingest the Word of God. Something sharpens.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: And we don't see it through the eyes of confusion and we don't see it through the natural mind. The natural mind's renewed and the Word of God helps us to dissect things - "Ah, this is the way I'm supposed to go".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right, and the list of items here, Jonathan - soul and spirit, even joints and marrow - these are things that are not easily extractable, one from the other, and I think that's exactly the point, that the Word of God helps us to separate out things that can tend to get interwoven, intertwined, confused. It gives us the discernment to separate truth from somebody else's version of truth, which is no truth at all.

Jonathan Bernis: So, what if I told you that there is a tool that you can actually use to discern somebody's motive, to discern how you should respond to something, and what you should believe, what you shouldn't believe? And the answer is you have that tool and it's the Word of God.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: It actually separates through the confusion and helps you to understand what's behind it. That's what happens.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely, and it's alive and on the move. Again, I can't overemphasize that. Jonathan, we know. You can read a verse 50 times, and the 51st time it's going to come alive. The Spirit of God is going to show you something different there, not new truth but a different way of looking at that same enduring truth that we've never seen before.

Jonathan Bernis: I love when I suddenly have the insight and I know the answer to something.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: I just know. I didn't know before and now I know. Very often that happens when I'm in the Word of God because the Word of God enables us to cut through all of this.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: And to separate truth from lies. Hey, before we take a break, I want to let you know that your gift to Jewish Voice today will enable us to get the written Word of God into the hands of new Jewish believers. Also, when we come back, Ezra and I are going to reveal some fascinating facts about the Bible. I'm sure you've never heard some of these before. So, stand by for our announcer, and we'll be right back.

Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back to, "Jewish Voice". Hey, before Ezra and I get back into our discussion of the Bible, I want to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who support Jewish Voice. We honestly could not do this work without you. So, thank you again for your generous giving, and especially for joining Jewish Voice as a monthly shalom partner. Your ongoing support of this ministry is so important. We couldn't do it without our partners, Ezra - could not.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. So thankful for each of you.

Jonathan Bernis: Hey, I want to touch back on something again, and I just touched on it briefly and it's so important. It's Hebrews 4:12.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: Which talks about the Word of God being, "Alive and active. Sharper than any two-edged," or double, "Sword, and it penetrates" - listen to this now. "It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow". This is great here. Listen to this. "It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart". So, imagine this. You have an instrument that can actually tell if somebody's telling the truth or not on you, and actually judge - go beyond that and judge the motivation of what you hear, of what you read. And you're trying to figure it all out, so at first there's confusion, and then you activate this thing and beep-beep-beep-beep, and suddenly, you know. You're able to divide the words, you're able to divide the content, and say this is true, this is not true.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: Down to motivation.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: That's what the Word of God does.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: This is an amazing thing, that you're in confusion, and then you get into the Word of God and something changes, and what some call your "Knower" - I like that word. Your "Knower" knows, and through the Word of God and the power, because there's power in the Word of God, you suddenly have this revelation and you know that you know because the Word of God has divided truth from error, truth from lies, divided up motivation from unhealthy to healthy motivation, and you just know.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: I love that.

Ezra Benjamin: "Dividing soul and spirit," Jonathan.

Jonathan Bernis: It works, too.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah. My soul, your soul, our mind, will, and emotions that make up our soul, I don't trust those things all the time because they can be deceptive. Maybe you can relate. But what we can trust is the spirit of the living God in us, and the word helps us separate between the two.

Jonathan Bernis: And the Bible talks about times of deception coming.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: There's more deception, an onslaught of deception, that I've experienced in the last two years than in the last twenty combined, I would say. This is the hardest time in history, in my lifetime anyway, to navigate through, but I've got the tool to navigate through this successfully, and it's right here.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely. Jonathan, one of the, and I'm sure those listening at home are familiar with this, one of the best ways to kind of absorb and digest the Word of God on an ongoing basis is what we call a Bible reading plan. And you may think that's a very Christian idea, but I want to let you know the Jewish community has been on a Bible reading plan, at least the Jewish Bible, which is what we know as the Old Testament, for over two millennia.

Jonathan Bernis: Absolutely. Let me demonstrate, and I love this. This is a Torah scroll. It's actually, if you know the difference, this is a Sephardic one. There's Ashkenazi and Sephardic, but I'm not going to get into that, but inside you have the Torah scroll. So, the Torah for thousands of years was not written in book form, it was in scroll form. And when you go to a synagogue or temple, it's in scroll form. They used to have the scrolls and they'd roll them out into the synagogues, the ancient synagogues. So, this is the five books of Moses. It's on a scroll, and the scroll keeps turning through the course of the year. So, there's 52, or actually 54 - I won't get into the details of that, but portions that you read in Hebrew. You're turning the scroll, turning the scroll, and you eventually, at the end of the year, reach the end of the scroll.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And then, you have a ceremony where you actually - called simchat Torah, "The joy of the Torah," where you roll the scroll back to the beginning and you start again. We want to duplicate that in our devotional time and actually divide the Torah, along with the corresponding prophet or writing and a New Testament portion, into these cycles, so in the course of a year we can read all of the scriptures.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And then we start again.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. The Jewish community, as you said, Jonathan, goes Genesis, Exodus, numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy.

Jonathan Bernis: Turn, turn, turn.

Ezra Benjamin: And then, at the end of Deuteronomy, rolls the thing back to the beginning of Genesis every year during the fall feasts or the fall holidays - September, October time on the western calendar. Why do we read this over and over again? Why did the rabbis say you need to do this every year, year after year, throughout your lifetime? Because they understood and God understands, more importantly, we're prone to forget, and that's true for all of us. Jewish and gentile, Jonathan, we're prone to forget. The Word of God leaks out of us. We need to continue to be filled.

Jonathan Bernis: Maybe we should carry a scroll around and be turning it through the course of the year.

Ezra Benjamin: A little inconvenient, but that's an idea.

Jonathan Bernis: That's not very practical, but it's great to have a Bible that is divided up into those portions.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: Or at least gives us the portions so that we can follow that cycle.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely, and also, what a cool thought to know that the Jewish community, millions of people worldwide, are reading the same portion of scripture, meditating on the same few chapters in the Bible, every week throughout the year. It gives a sense of community and really, camaraderie. We're all digesting the same thing at the same time.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, we're getting the same message together and we're getting different insights out of it, and then we compare notes when we come together. It's enlightening and it's fun, actually.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely. And you may be asking at home, "What does this have to do with me? That's fantastic for the Jewish people. I'm a Christian". The same idea applies that we tend to forget what God's shown us, and for that reason, what better way than a Bible reading plan, from the Old Testament, from the prophets, from the New Testament, to rehearse and to get into our, we say in the Jewish community, our "Kishkes," our guts, year after year, season after season, that same truth that's alive and active?

Jonathan Bernis: The other thing that I love is that you have hundreds, if not thousands, of years of collective wisdom based on those portions. So, you can go online and you can actually follow the portions and read insights, not only from the sages of Israel, but also from Christians that have attached themselves to this.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: So, you're following along with this cycle that actually has so much supportive information. It's a great experience. It really is. Try it, you'll like it.

Ezra Benjamin: Jonathan, something our audience may not know is that Torah scrolls aren't printed like the Bible is printed, you know, on a printing press. They're actually, if they're legit, if they're original, handwritten. And I'm thinking, you know, pun not intended, but Ezra in the Bible is called a scribe. What that meant, the scribes of Israel, their job, full-time, was to actually hand write one copy of the scriptures to an identical copy.

Jonathan Bernis: Well, you're making a point that I think you need to hear, actually. So, if you've looked at a Torah scroll, or just look at this one, although this one isn't hand-done, you see that every word is perfectly done. And if there's any mistakes, they have to start again. If they can't correct it, they'll start again, because - and it's by memory. They're not following, they're not reading a text and following it. If you've ever watched a scribe do this in Israel, they're doing it by hand, they're doing it literally perfectly, and they're doing it by memory. What's the point of all that? And the way that this has been transmitted, it's just remarkable. It reminds me of the scripture that talks about being "A workman that studies to show yourself approved so you're not ashamed". This is understood, I think, in Judaism of old, and has been forgotten, and that is that this something that we're supposed to really involve and devote energy into to become a student of the Word of God, so that we can understand doctrine, so that we can be wise in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, so that we can navigate through the storms of life. This is about working. This isn't about being just a casual observer, and I think that's displayed in the Torah scroll.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, Jonathan, the verse that you were quoting is actually 2 Timothy 2:15, and Paul's exhorting Timothy, this young man who is in charge of a congregation of thousands of believers, many of whom are brand-new believers. He says - I'll read it. "Do your best," do your best, "To present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who need not be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth". How can we correctly handle it? I'm exhorting you at home. How can we correctly handle this word if we're not in it regularly?

Jonathan Bernis: I heard somebody, a message. You heard it with me and it's really stuck with me. What if the whole pandemic was the lesson and now is the test - how we deal with this and how we become fruitful now in providing for people that are in despair, in chaos? The answer to their problems is the test. This is so important. I believe that's right. This is the test. This is the time where we're supposed to be more fruitful than ever before. We have to shake this off. Maybe you've been going through a terribly challenging time. Now is the time to shake it off, get into the Word of God, be a worker who needs not be ashamed, and bring light to those that are lost around us. This is the time. You know, this has been an amazing program and there's still more to come. After the break, Ezra and I are going to come back into agreement with you for your needs and the needs of your family. Don't go away. We'll be right back. This is important for you. Stay tuned.

Jonathan Bernis: Back into the Word of God. Ezra, I'm talking to myself here, but I'm talking to all of you.

Ezra Benjamin: You're talking to me, too.

Jonathan Bernis: Get into the Word of God, and we're going to agree with you right now specifically for that, because the answer to your questions and your concerns, and the path forward, is in this book. God will enlighten your mind as you get into his word. So, father, Ezra and I agree together in prayer. "Where two or three agree on earth as touching anything, it shall be done," and we agree for a new outpouring of enlightenment as your people get back into a regular devotional time of reading your word, of meditating on your word, of confessing your word. May it come alive, may the questions be answered, may the haze be cleared up, and may you lay out a clear path for each one that's watching. In the name of Yeshua, in Jesus' name, amen and amen.

If you'd like more information about our ministry, I would encourage you to go to our website. It's jewishvoice.tv, and while you're there, you can submit your prayer requests right on the website. We're committed to reading your prayer requests and praying for you and your family by name, because we believe in the power of prayer and we care about you. More importantly, God cares about you. As we close the program, I want to remind you of what God asks each of us to do in Psalm 122:6, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem". It says, "May they prosper who love thee". Until next time, this is Jonathan Bernis and Ezra Benjamin, saying shalom and God bless you.
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