This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4:10 (New Living Translation)
One of the most beautiful aspects of a sunny summer morning is the birdsong. Dozens of avian species have beautiful and unique sounds that greet the early riser. Jesus told his followers that God cares for the needs of sparrows, and you can hear their delight in his provision when they raise their voices. Long before Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, David worshiped God in the wilderness and used the same bird imagery to describe God's tender care.
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:2 (ESV)
As believers, we have the privilege and responsibility of sharing God's word with those around us, but there is a lot of pressure to interpret the words of Scripture through cultural, political, and social filters so they seem more relevant or useful. As this passage points out though, the Bible does not need our embellishment or help to do its work.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4 (ESV)
Fear rears its head as a result of a wide range of circumstances and expresses itself in myriad ways. From physical danger to loss of financial stability, there are plenty of reasons to be afraid throughout this life. Left unchecked, fear can take over and cause us to doubt everything we've ever believed. That is, unless we can find an antidote.
...I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (ESV)
We live in a time when many people feel they must identify with a group or "tribe" in order to have a voice. Despite the fact that our culture elevates individualism, there is palpable pressure to align with a voting bloc or social movement. Don't believe it? Just watch the news or scroll through your social media feed. We aren't exempt in the Church either, where there is a real tendency to place ourselves and others in denominational, theological boxes.
The Apostle Paul, however, had a very different understanding of identity.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (ESV)
The Bible often references the fact that to God, the things the world prizes are useless, while those things the world dismisses turn out to be what matters most.