God in our midst, God walking in our midst, God in fellowship with His body... From the beginning, God's plan and purpose has been to indwell man. As we look back over history and see the steps that were necessary to bring this about, we get a glimpse of the very heart of God. God does not just give us the opportunity to escape from evil and the world; He has given Himself, so that we may know His divine working in each of our lives, and know it together in the church. We may now move with spiritual understanding, not just in our minds. We are here for His purpose, not ours. By His Holy Spirit, God wants to reveal to us the depths of His purpose, the depths of His heart, and what He is doing today, so that we may enter into it and partake of it.
In the 40th chapter of Exodus, there is an account of Moses erecting the tabernacle: "...So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys" (Exodus 40: 33-38) This was God's order in the wilderness under the first covenant.
The new covenant is described in Hebrews 10: "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Heb. 10:16-25).
The presence of God in the old covenant was manifested in the wilderness through the cloud by day and the fire by night. The presence of God in the new covenant is manifested as the Holy Spirit comes to abide within each believer's life, to guide and lead him in the way that he goes. Paul is very clear in Romans 8:14, that "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." God made man for Himself, so that He might be all things in him--that He might be his life, and direct and lead him in the fullness of all that He is.
God comes to dwell within us when we, by faith, receive the Holy Spirit. Then we are able to learn and partake of God as we move through each day. The Holy Spirit teaches us His ways, disciplines every area of our lives, and gives us the ability to bring every thought captive to Christ. When our minds are brought into subjection to the Holy Spirit, we can "think in God"--in the revelation of Himself as He reveals it to us.
We always begin by strengthening our relationship with God personally. This is very important. We must wait upon Him and learn to know His ways and His voice, in order to be led by Him. His sheep know His voice, and will not be led by another (John 10). God also disciplines our emotions, so that we are not led by how we feel. Submitting to the control of the Holy Spirit--knowing God's voice and learning not to be led by our emotions--enables us to partake of Him and move in union with Him. Jesus prayed, "Father, make them one as we are one." (John 17) This is a great mystery, but as we begin to experience what God is doing, we find that God's ways are far above anything we could imagine. It is glorious! We are being changed "from glory to glory," as Paul says (II Cor. 3:18).
As we go on with God step by step, day by day, we start to realize that we can do nothing separate from Him. This includes our time of gathering unto the Lord. In Ephesians we are told that the Spirit is in the midst of His people to build us together as a habitation of Himself (Eph. 2:22). God's people come together to worship Him, to encourage one another, and most of all to meet with God collectively. For this to be a reality when we come together, it must be a reality in our individual lives before God. As we learn to move with Him--to speak when He speaks, work when He works--then when we come together God will encourage us through one another. The Holy Spirit in our midst will exhort, edify, and comfort us (I Cor. 14:3) through the manifestations of the Spirit described in I Corinthians 12.