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Overcoming the World, Sister Janeece Escobar, April 23rd, 2023

One of the best responsibilities I have with my calling is the opportunity to meet with each sister individually. As I’ve met with them, some have shared very challenging things that they have been asked to go through. And they have also shared how through Jesus Christ, they have been able to overcome those challenges.

The world around us is full of anxious, proud, angry, rude, and arrogant people. I can think of times when I’ve been many of those things. I’ve been anxious about what to say or how to talk to someone or that I’m not smart enough compared to everyone else, fearful of doing something. I’ve been thoughtless and rude. I’ve been proud and angry. I don’t like myself afterwards because I know that I can be better. I can feel inside that I am better than the way I’m behaving. I think, only if I were stronger or more disciplined I could be a better person. And that’s where I go wrong. Trying to do it all on my own.

Christ has said, “Come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30).

Pres Nelson said, with Christ’s help, “you can overcome the spiritually and emotionally exhausting plagues of the world, including arrogance, pride, anger, immorality, hatred, greed, jealousy, and fear. Despite the distractions and distortions that swirl around us, you can find true rest—meaning relief and peace—even amid your most vexing problems.” (April 2023 General Conference)

We yoke ourselves with Christ through sacred covenants. Making sacred covenants with God gives us greater access to HIS power to help us overcome the world. Sacred covenants help us create a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Pres Nelson said, “Now, overcoming the world certainly does not mean becoming perfect in this life, nor does it mean that your problems will magically evaporate—because they won’t. And it does not mean that you won’t still make mistakes. But overcoming the world does mean that your resistance to sin will increase. Your heart will soften as your faith in Jesus Christ increases. Overcoming the world means growing to love God and His Beloved Son more than you love anyone or anything else…

Overcoming the world is not an event that happens in a day or two. It happens over a lifetime as we repeatedly embrace the doctrine of Christ. We cultivate faith in Jesus Christ by repenting daily and keeping covenants that endow us with power. We stay on the covenant path and are blessed with spiritual strength, personal revelation, increasing faith, and the ministering of angels. Living the doctrine of Christ can produce the most powerful virtuous cycle, creating spiritual momentum in our lives.

As we strive to live the higher laws of Jesus Christ, our hearts and our very natures begin to change. The Savior lifts us above the pull of this fallen world by blessing us with greater charity, humility, generosity, kindness, self-discipline, peace, and rest.”

Christ’s power and the power that comes through sacred covenants, is the power to do more than we normally would be able to do. It’s power to change.

Here are a couple of thoughts as I’ve pondered what it means to love God and His Beloved Son more than I love anyone or anything else. I’ve realized that I feel anxious or fearful because I want my boss or co-workers praise, admiration, or validation. The praise of the world has become my god. When in reality, I should be asking myself, what would Heavenly Father want me to do? How would he want me to act? It’s a subtle mindset shift that I’m still trying to figure out. But I can feel myself changing. If I look back 5 years ago, I am a better person today than I was then. And hopefully 5 years from now I’ll be better still. A more refined person.

President Ezra Taft Benson: “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, … lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace.” Making and keeping covenants helps us turn our lives over to God.

One of my favorite videos that the church has released is called “Faith Crisis: What do we do when we feel nothing”. In the video Michael Mclean shares his faith crisis, a time when he needed some answers from heaven and he felt the heavens were closed to him. At this time, he needed to know how to help his son. How to help keep his family together. So he started praying. He begged God to talk to him. Michael says that it was the first time in his life that he felt that the heavens were shut. He couldn’t get past the ceiling. But after two years, he started asking himself, hey wait a minute. What if I got this wrong. Not just church stuff or policy stuff, but what if the issue is if there really is a God out there who hears and answers prayers? Do I really know who Jesus Christ is?

We all make great promises when we feel great. But what about when we feel nothing.

So Michael decides to trust God. He decides to believe that there is a reason that he couldn’t hear God. He trusted that God was smarter than him, that God had a plan and that eventually he would feel something. So Michael kept doing what he knew he should do. He kept living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Michael is a songwriter. After 9 years, 9 years!! He had an extraordinary experience. He went into his study and over 10 days he got a download of songs. When he reviewed those 10 or 12 songs that he had gotten in those 10 days, he realized that the answer about who Jesus was and how Jesus felt about him and how he was to move forward came in those songs. The Lord answered Michael in a way that was very personal to him.

Then Michael asks, well, why did it take 9 years for God to answer my prayer? As he reviewed the songs, he started reflecting back and he realized that Jesus had been there. But he had decided that answers to prayers came this way. That God only answered his prayers inside this box. When in fact God had been trying to talk to him outside of what Michael had predetermined was the way God talked to him. Michael listed 25 things that had happened where the Lord was reaching out to him. That in fact, for 9 years God had NOT been punishing him by not talking to him. But had been trying to teach him that even when he couldn’t see it, Christ’s grace had been trying to save him.

I’m not sure how Christ’s power works. But I believe Pres Nelson and I believe Jesus Christ. I believe that if I continue to keep my covenants, continue to work to grow my testimony of Jesus Christ that I can continue learning how to draw upon His power to overcome the world. I can continue to find peace and rest from fear, anxiety, pride, and other things of the world.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

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