Message: Judges 16 is the ending to the fascinating, but sad story of Samson. He was marked for great things even before he was born. His mother abstained from certain things during her pregnancy and he took a Nazirite vow which made him consecrated (set apart) for a very specific purpose. He was supposed to deliver Israel from the Philistines. God gave him a supernatural strength and even reading about the things he did is unbelievable! Unfortunately, Samson was run by his desires and passions so although he was specially gifted and God still used the power to punish the Philistines through Samson’s erratic behavior, it was never used to the complete potential. Samson ultimately gave up his life while defeating the Philistines in one last act of vengeance. As I thought about Samson’s story I thought of all of us. We have all been called and set apart but whether consistently, or occasionally, we chase after our own passions and desires. When we do this we minimize the potential God intended for us. If we are completely given over to it like Samson was we may find ourselves tortured and oppressed by an enemy that we were intended to destroy. This story challenges me to examine my uncontrolled emotions, passions and desires. For Samson his uncontrolled emotions drove him toward women. Not nice women, but manipulative women who were not shy about their ill intent. I can’t relate to that one but my emotions have definitely taken the wheel in plenty of other areas in my life. Emotions have a powerful influence and they are often what keep us from doing what is right in a moment when our logic knows better. For me it can be anger and frustration that keep me from connecting with someone, or humbling myself to let an offense go. It can be negative relationship patterns or destructive thoughts. At the end of the story Samson called on God one last time. He wanted one last vengeance for his eyes that the Philistines had gouged out and God gave it to him. I wonder what might have happened if he had asked for his strength in order to finish his purpose? It seems he even finished his life chasing after his own emotions. Our story may be similar to Samson’s as far as chasing our emotions, but it doesn’t have to end that way. Lord please help me surrender my emotions when they want to control me!