Rev. George R. Dillahunty
Virginia Conference Evangelist
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
865 Grant Avenue
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452-3047

March 26, 2008

Text: Jeremiah 15:15-16 (King James Version)

"O Lord, Thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in Thy longsuffering: know that for Thy sake I have suffered rebuke. (v. 16) Thy Words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy Name, O Lord God of hosts."

Topic: The Center Of Our Joy!

The great African-American Gospel music artist, composer, pianist, and arranger, Richard Smallwood, in collaboration with the American Gospel music artist and songwriter, William J. "Bill" Gaither (Born: 1936) and his wife, Gloria (Sickal) Gaither (Born: 1942), wrote a song entitled, "Center of My Joy," whose chorus says things well:

***"Jesus, Youíre the center of my joy.
***All thatís good and perfect comes from You.
***Youíre the heart of my contentment, hope for all I do.
***Jesus, Youíre the center of my joy."

As a young child, I used to sing a song, whose author I do not know, entitled, "Iíve Got the Joy in My Heart," which went like this:

***"Iíve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
***Down in my heart!
***Down in my heart!
***Iíve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
***Down in my heart to stay."

I, along with many other children, sang that song through my childhood years, and we were truly joyous as we were singing it - our little hearts bubbling over with happiness as we exhuberantly expressed the joy of knowing Almighty God! Unfortunately, down through the years, something happened to steal that joy away - and, my brothers and sisters, that is one of the greatest tragedies of our modern-day society! Perhaps, you are one of those who have lost your joy! In point of fact, I believe that all of us, at one time or another, have lost our joy!

The psalmist, in Psalm 1:1-6 (NLT), tells us: "Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked. or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers. (v. 2) But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about His Law. (v. 3) They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper. (v. 4) But this is not true of the wicked. They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. (v. 5) They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. (v. 6) For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction."

This first Psalm is a fitting introduction to the wonderful Old Testament Book of Psalms, because it describes us as Almighty God intended for us to be! Almighty God wants to be our joy-bringer today! There are two (2) aspects of the joy-filled